AIMS: To describe the self-reported medicine use for common health complaints among 11-15-year-olds in Denmark during a ten year period, 1988-1998. The paper focuses on medicine for headache, stomach ache, cough, cold, nervousness, and difficulties in getting to sleep. METHODS: Four cross-sectional surveys of 11-15-year-old students in random samples of schools in Denmark, conducted in 1988 (n=1671), 1991 (n=1860), 1994 (n=4046) and 1998 (n=5205). The surveys were similar with regard to sampling and data collection. Data were collected by self-administered questionnaires in the classroom. RESULTS: A large proportion of 11-15-year-olds reported medicine use during the past month. It was most common to take medicines for headache (used by 55% of 15-year-old girls and 36% of 15-year-old boys in 1998) and stomach ache (33% among 15-year-old girls in 1998). Pain reliever use was higher among girls than boys and this sex difference increased with age. There was an upward trend in reported medicine use from 1988 to 1998, in particular regarding medicine for stomach-ache among 13- and 15-year-old girls. A large proportion of girls were frequent users of medicine for headache, stomach-ache, and sleeping difficulties. CONCLUSION: A high proportion of 11-15-year-old girls and boys reported medicine use in relation to common health complaints. The proportion of users increased during the past decade. It is suggested that more information about medicine be built into health education programs in the future.