Tazarotene 0.1% gel and tretinoin 0.025% gel are both effective in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Results of a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, parallel-group study that compared the efficacy and tolerability of these drugs are presented here. A total of 143 patients with mild-to-moderate facial acne vulgaris were randomized to receive tazarotene 0.1% gel or tretinoin 0.025% gel once daily for 12 weeks. Tazarotene 0.1% gel was more effective than tretinoin 0.025% gel in reducing the open comedo count (P < or = .05), the total noninflammatory lesion count (P < or = .05), and the total inflammatory lesion count (not statistically significant). At some time points, tazarotene was associated with increased irritation, but peeling, erythema, dryness, burning, and itching never exceeded trace levels. We conclude that tazarotene 0.1% gel is more effective than tretinoin 0.025% gel in reducing noninflammatory lesions and similarly effective in reducing inflammatory lesions.