OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of fluvoxamine for the treatment of social phobia (social anxiety disorder). METHOD: In a 12-week multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 92 patients with social phobia were treated with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluvoxamine; 91.3% of the patients had the generalized subtype of the disorder. The primary criterion for response was a rating of "much improved" or "very much improved" on the Clinical Global Impression of Improvement scale. Secondary response criteria were changes on three specialized rating scales for social phobia symptoms: the Brief Social Phobia Scale, the Social Phobia Inventory, and the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. Psychosocial impairment was assessed in three domains (disruption of work, social life, and home/family life) by using the Sheehan Disability Scale. RESULTS: The mean daily dose of fluvoxamine was 202 mg (SD=86). At study end or with the last observation carried forward, within the evaluable subjects (N=86) there was a significantly higher proportion of responders in the fluvoxamine group (42.9%, N=18) than in the placebo group (22.7%, N=10). Similarly, fluvoxamine was superior to placebo on all social phobia rating scales at week 8 and beyond. Fluvoxamine also resulted in significantly greater decreases in measures of psychosocial disability than did placebo. Overall, fluvoxamine was well tolerated and safe. CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that fluvoxamine is efficacious in the pharmacologic management of serious forms of social phobia.