Objectives: To investigate the effectiveness of valerian for the management of chronic insomnia in general practice. Design: Valerian versus placebo in a series of n-of-1 trials, in Queensland, Australia. Results: Of 42 enrolled patients, 24 (57%) had sufficient data for inclusion into the n-of-1 analysis. Response to valerian was fair for 23 (96%) participants evaluating their 'energy level in the previous day' but poor or modest for all 24 (100%) participants' response to 'total sleep time' and for 23 (96%) participants' response to 'number of night awakenings' and 'morning refreshment'. As a group, the proportion of treatment successes ranged from 0.35 (95% CI 0.23, 0.47) to 0.55 (95% CI 0.43, 0.67) for the six elicited outcome sleep variables. There was no significant difference in the number (P = 0.06), distribution (P = 1.00) or severity (P = 0.46) of side effects between valerian and placebo treatments. Conclusions: Valerian was not shown to be appreciably better than placebo in promoting sleep or sleep-related factors for any individual patient or for all patients as a group. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.