BACKGROUND:Plantar heel pain (plantar fasciitis) is a common and disabling condition, which has a detrimental impact on health-related quality of life. Despite the high prevalence of plantar heel pain, the optimal treatment for this disorder remains unclear. Consequently, an alternative therapy such as dry needling is increasingly being used as an adjunctive treatment by health practitioners. Only two trials have investigated the effectiveness of dry needling for plantar heel pain, however both trials were of a low methodological quality. This manuscript describes the design of a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of dry needling for plantar heel pain. METHODS:Eighty community-dwelling men and woman aged over 18 years with plantar heel pain (who satisfy the inclusion and exclusion criteria) will be recruited. Eligible participants with plantar heel pain will be randomised to receive either one of two interventions, (i) real dry needling or (ii) sham dry needling. The protocol (including needling details and treatment regimen) was formulated by general consensus (using the Delphi research method) using 30 experts worldwide that commonly use dry needling for plantar heel pain. Primary outcome measures will be the pain subscale of the Foot Health Status Questionnaire and "first step" pain as measured on a visual analogue scale. The secondary outcome measures will be health related quality of life (assessed using the Short Form-36 questionnaire - Version Two) and depression, anxiety and stress (assessed using the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale - short version). Primary outcome measures will be performed at baseline, 2, 4, 6 and 12 weeks and secondary outcome measures will be performed at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks. Data will be analysed using the intention to treat principle. CONCLUSION:This study is the first randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of dry needling for plantar heel pain. The trial will be reported in accordance with the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials and the Standards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture guidelines. The findings from this trial will provide evidence for the effectiveness of trigger point dry needling for plantar heel pain. TRIAL REGISTRATION:Australian New Zealand 'Clinical Trials Registry'. ACTRN12610000611022.