BACKGROUND: Plantar forefoot pain is commonly experienced by older people and it is often treated with forefoot pads to offload the painful area. However, studies have found inconsistent effects for different forefoot pads on plantar pressure reduction, and optimum forefoot pad placement is still not clear. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of different forefoot pads on plantar pressure under the forefoot in older people with forefoot pain. METHODS: Thirty-seven adults (31 females, 6 males) with a mean age of 73.5 (SD 4.8) participated. Forefoot plantar pressure data were recorded using the pedar®-X in-shoe system while participants walked along an 8 m walkway. Five conditions were tested in a standardised shoe: (i) no padding (the control), (ii) a metatarsal dome positioned 10 mm proximal to the metatarsal heads, (iii) a metatarsal dome positioned 5 mm distal to the metatarsal heads, (iv) a metatarsal bar, and (v) a plantar cover. RESULTS: Compared to the shoe-only control condition, each of the forefoot pads significantly reduced forefoot peak pressure and maximum force. The metatarsal dome positioned 5 mm distal to the metatarsal heads and the plantar cover were most effective for reducing peak pressure (17%, p < 0.001 and 19%, p < 0.001, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that forefoot pads are effective for reducing forefoot pressures in older people with forefoot pain, and that the position of the pad relative to the metatarsal heads may be more important than the shape of the pad.