The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of low level laser therapy on subjects with intra-articular temporomandibular disorders (IA-TMD), and to quantify and compare severity of signs and symptoms before, during, and after the laser applications. The sample consisted of 45 subjects randomly divided into three groups (G) of 15 subjects each: G-I: 15 individuals with IA-TMD submitted to an energy dose of 52.5 J/cm(2); G-II: dose of 105.0 J/cm(2); and G-III: placebo group (0 J/cm(2)). In all groups, the applications were performed on condylar points on the masseter and anterior temporalis muscles. Two weekly sessions were held for five weeks, totaling 10 applications. The assessed variables were: mandibular movements and painful symptoms evoked by muscle palpation. These variables were measured before starting the study, then immediately after the first, fifth, and tenth laser application, and finally, 32 days after completing the applications. The results showed that there were statistically significant differences for G-I and G-II at the level of 1% between the doses, as well as between assessments. Therefore, it was concluded that the use of low level laser increased the mean mandibular range of motion and reduced painful symptoms in the groups that received effective treatment, which did not occur in the placebo group.