Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) infection is still one of the leading causes of infection-related deaths in domestic cats. Treatment with various drugs has been attempted, but none has resulted in cure or complete virus elimination. Human interferon-α2a (huIFN-α2a) and 3'-azido-2',3'-dideoxythymidin (AZT) have been proven to decrease antigenaemia in cats infected experimentally with FeLV. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of huIFN-α2a, AZT and a combination of both drugs in cats infected naturally with FeLV in a placebo-controlled double-blinded trial. Fourty-four FeLV-infected cats in which free FeLV p27 antigen was detected in serum by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay were included in the study. Cats were assigned to one of four treatment groups that received either high dose huIFN-α2a (10(5) IU/kg q24h; 12 cats), AZT (5 mg/kg q12h; 10 cats, both of these treatments (12 cats) or placebo (10 cats). All cats were treated for 6 weeks. Clinical variables, including stomatitis, and laboratory parameters, such as CD4(+) and CD8(+) counts and serum FeLV p 27 antigen concentration, were recorded throughout the treatment period. No significant difference among the groups was observed during the treatment period for any of the parameters. Aside from anaemia in one cat treated with AZT, no adverse effects were observed. It was not possible to demonstrate efficacy of huIFN-α2a or AZT alone or together in cats infected naturally with FeLV when given according to this regimen for 6 weeks; however, no notable side effects were detected.