It is important for a medical practitioner to be aware of his or her patient's use of non-prescribed, unproven remedies. This is especially so in a chronic relapsing disease of unknown cause such as rheumatoid arthritis. We selected 90 consecutive patients with classic or definite rheumatoid arthritis who attended the rheumatology clinic of a teaching hospital in 1982. The patients were asked about their previous or current use of an unproven remedy; 82% had used more than one unproven remedy since the diagnosis was made and 52% were currently using an unproven remedy. In all, 352 separate unproven remedies were used, with a mean of 4 +/- 0.3 remedies per patient. Avoidance of a particular food substance or use of a copper bracelet were the most common of such remedies. Fourteen per cent of remedies were deemed to be useful and 3% were felt to have resulted in an adverse effect.