BACKGROUND: The effectiveness of lipid-lowering medication critically depends on the patients' compliance and the efficacy of the prescribed drug. OBJECTIVES: The primary objective of this multicentre study was to compare the efficacy of rosuvastatin with or without access to compliance initiatives, in bringing patients to the Joint European Task Force's (1998) recommended low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) level goal (LDL-C, <3.0 mmol/L) at week 24. Secondary objectives were comparison of the number and percentage of patients achieving European goals (1998, 2003) for LDL-C and other lipid parameters. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with primary hypercholesterolaemia and a 10-year coronary heart disease risk of >20% received open label rosuvastatin treatment for 24 weeks with or without access to compliance enhancement tools. The initial daily dosage of 10 mg could be doubled at week 12. Compliance tools included: a) a starter pack for subjects containing a videotape, an educational leaflet, a passport/goal diary and details of the helpline and/or website; b) regular personalised letters to provide message reinforcement; c) a toll-free helpline and a website. RESULTS: The majority of patients (67%) achieved the 1998 European goal for LDL-C at week 24. 31% required an increase in dosage of rosuvastatin to 20 mg at week 12. Compliance enhancement tools did not increase the number of patients achieving either the 1998 or the 2003 European target for plasma lipids. Rosuvastatin was well tolerated during this study. The safety profile was comparable with other drugs of the same class. 63 patients in the 10 mg group and 58 in the 10 mg Plus group discontinued treatment. The main reasons for discontinuation were adverse events (39 patients in the 10 mg group; 35 patients in the 10 mg Plus group) and loss to follow-up (13 patients in the 10 mg group; 9 patients in the 10 mg Plus group). The two most frequently reported adverse events were myalgia (34 patients, 3% respectively) and back pain (23 patients, 2% respectively). The overall rate of temporary or permanent study discontinuation due to adverse events was 9% (n = 101) in patients receiving 10 mg rosuvastatin and 3% (n = 9) in patients titrated up to 20 mg rosuvastatin. CONCLUSIONS: Rosuvastatin was effective in lowering LDL-C values in patients with hypercholesterolaemia to the 1998 European target at week 24. However, compliance enhancement tools did not increase the number of patients achieving any European targets for plasma lipids.