Thirty-seven patients with hereditary angioedema, who, without therapy, had attacks of cutaneous angioedema, gastrointestinal colic, and/or upper respiratory symptoms at a frequency and severity sufficient to prompt treatment with an attenuated androgen, have been evaluated for the incidence of side effects and biochemical toxicity during various schedules leading to the minimal effective dose. Stanozolol was administered in a 2 mg daily dose, initially, and after the symptoms and signs were adequately controlled for 2 months at this dose or at 1 mg per day, the drug was administered every other day at 4 mg. Patients who responded adequately to this schedule were administered 2 or 1 mg every other day, and then the interval between doses was gradually increased to 1 week, after which the agent was stopped. Eighteen patients experienced adverse reactions to stanozolol while the minimal effective dose was attained. In each instance the side effect subsided with a reduction in dosage. The most common adverse reactions were biochemical evidence of hepatic dysfunction and, to a lesser extent, hirsutism and menstrual irregularities. Although 21 of 27 patients in an initial study of the minimal effective dose were maintained with daily therapy in 1980, by 1986 this group and 10 additional patients were distributed so that three patients were receiving daily maintenance, 18 were receiving alternate-day maintenance, and 16 patients were receiving no maintenance therapy [corrected]. Thus, stanozolol appears to be a safe and effective agent for management of hereditary angioedema when patients are continually monitored to define the minimal effective dose or the feasibility of stopping the drug.