The therapy of acupuncture has a long history. In its 2500 years of development, a wealth of experience has been accumulated, attesting to the wide range of diseases and conditions that can effectively be treated with its approach. In the past two decades, there have been extensive studies on acupuncture and great efforts have been undertaken to conduct controlled clinical trials, including the use of "sham" acupuncture or "placebo" acupuncture controls. This document is a brief review of the current literature on acupuncture practice, which may provide information about the effectiveness of different aspects of acupuncture therapy. Since the methodology of clinical research on acupuncture is still under debate, it is very difficult to evaluate acupuncture practice by any generally accepted measure. In this publication, only the results of controlled clinical trials that were formally published through the year 1998 (and early 1999 for some journals) are collected and reviewed, so that the conclusions may be generally accepted. In order to promote the appropriate use of acupuncture in those Member States where acupuncture has not been widely used, this document is annexed with a brief abstract of each relevant reference for the assessment of acupuncture practice. The clinical conditions covered in the existing data are also included. It must be emphasized that the list of diseases, symptoms or conditions covered in the publication is based on collected reports of clinical trials and, so, can serve only as a reference. Only national health authorities can determine the diseases, symptoms and conditions for which acupuncture treatment can be recommended.