A total of 125 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were investigated about their drug therapy before referral to a specialist centre. Most referrals were from general practitioners. Only 47 of the patients had received salicylates as the first drug and 18 had never had them at all. Soluble aspirin was the preparation of salicylates most frequently prescribed (for 63 patients). Only 60 patients had been given an adequate dose and only 62 an adequate course of treatment with salicylates. In 28 patients salicylates had been stopped on account of side effects. About one-third of the patients had been prescribed oral corticosteroids.The referral letters were poor in giving details of past and present drug therapy, and there were serious omissions in reporting of previous side effects.Seventy-five general practitioners were asked to rate several currently marketed antirheumatic drugs in terms of effectiveness. Though prednisolone 15 mg daily ranked higher than aspirin 4 g daily the difference was not significant. The study shows the inadequacies of drug prescribing for rheumatoid arthritis in the Glasgow area.