Epanolol (200 mg once daily) was compared with nifedipine (20 mg twice daily) in a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, crossover study in which 571 patients with stable angina pectoris were entered. Efficacy was assessed by anginal attack rate and short-acting nitrate consumption. Symptoms and treatment preference of the patients were assessed by questionnaires. Assessments were made at baseline and after each 4-week treatment period. Both treatments were equally efficacious as demonstrated by weekly anginal attack rates and nitrate usage. Of those patients who expressed a preference for treatment, 61 % expressed a preference for epanolol compared with 39% for nifedipine. Significantly fewer patients reported experiencing flushing, pedal oedema or feeling generally unwell (p < 0.01) during the epanolol treatment period. Patients withdrew from nifedipine treatment more often than from epanolol because of adverse effects. Hence, epanolol was found to be as efficacious as nifedipine in patients with stable angina pectoris, but exhibited a superior tolerability profile and was preferred by more patients.