Twenty-four unemployed sick-listed people were referred during 1996 and 1997 to a multidisciplinary vocational rehabilitation programme with additional work training and case management. Twelve months after the programme, 54.2% in the study group had lowered their benefit levels compared with those at the start while 26.1% in the control group - who underwent a conventional rehabilitation programme - had lowered their benefit levels (p = 0.050, Chi-squared test). There were no significant differences regarding fewer sick days three and 12 months after the programme between the study group and the control group. Regarding self-assessed quality of life, there were no significant differences within or between the groups. We conclude that this multidisciplinary vocational rehabilitation programme with work training and case-management affected the outcome positively regarding lowered level of benefits 12 months after termination of programme compared with level at start. Studies of the long-term effect of the programme should, however, be performed with more subjects in both study group and control group.