Bloodletting was widely used in antiquity in the setting of a humoral-pathological concept as a general treatment for all ailments, as well as during the middle ages primarily as a remedy for the treatment of inflammatory and infectious diseases. The general population was convinced of the efficacy of this treatment for centuries, even requesting it on occasion on a prophylactic basis. Although questioned early in history, the number of sceptical voices increased in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1835, P. Louis introduced statistics to medicine in Paris, thereby proving the inefficacy of bloodletting in inflammatory diseases. Today, bloodletting is used in scientific medicine in only a few rare disease.As long as rheumatic diseases remained undifferentiated, all cases were treated with bloodletting. After acute articular rheumatism 1591 was recognised as an independent disease entity, bloodletting remained the treatment of choice for most doctors right up to the end of the 19th century. Bloodletting was also the standard treatment for gout from antiquity up to the beginning of the 19th century. Following its differentiation in 1800, chronic articular rheumatism was no longer treated with venae sectio. Today, there is no indication for bloodletting therapy in rheumatology.