A vast accumulation of clinical experience and controlled studies justifies the use of gold compounds in selected cases of rheumatoid arthritis. The striking therapeutical efficacy observed in some patients has stimulated active research to clarify the pharmacokinetics and mechanisms of action of gold compounds. Based on this knowledge, the possibility of selecting gold-responsive patients may be enhanced, and the frequency of adverse reactions decreased. Liberal indications and inexperience in administration and control have given gold therapy mixed reputation. A symposium in Umeå, Sweden, summarized present knowledge and current concepts among Scandinavian rheumatologists on the rational use of gold compounds.