OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of the fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) in patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: Fifteen female RA (Steinbrocker II-III) patients, who had unsuccessfully tried two different DMARD treatments, were enrolled in an open-label, 1-year long, pilot clinical study. DMARD and steroid therapies were recorded and continued. All patients received Avemar as additional therapy. For measurement of efficacy the Ritchie Index, the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and the assessment of morning stiffness were applied. Patients were evaluated at baseline, 6 and 12 months. For statistical analyses the Wilcoxon test was used.RESULTS: At both 6 and 12 months, Ritchie index, HAQ and morning stiffness showed significant improvements compared with the baseline values. Dosages of steroids could be reduced in about half of the patients. No side effects of Avemar were observed. CONCLUSION:Supplementation of standard therapies with a continuous administration of Avemar is beneficial for RA patients.