Onychomycosis is a common fungal disease infecting up to 20 % of the population over age 40. The major causative agent of onychomycosis is Trichophyton rubrum. Uncontrolled infection may eventually lead to penetration of the newly forming nail plate. In spite of the encouraging cure rate with recent antifungal agents such as the allylamines (terbinafine) and azoles (itraconazole and fluconazole) some patients inevitably fail therapy. In this investigation, a group of patients from a multi-center study designed to assess the efficacy of terbinafine with known cases of onychomycosis were selected for evaluation. Nail samples from this patient group were colonized with T. rubrum throughout the terbinafine therapy. Antifungal susceptibility testing was performed on these T. rubrum isolates to detect change in MIC values. Strain relatedness was examined using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique. Our results revealed failure of patients to clear T. rubrum is not related to the development of resistance to the drug. While species determination was possible, we were not able to identify differences that would indicate reinfection with a new strain. Analysis of patient demographic data revealed that 70% of patients were over 45 years old, 56.6% were previously treated with antifungals, 60 % came from family history with onychomycosis and 13 % were diabetic. In conclusion, our data indicate that patients' failure to clear onychomycosis was not associated with resistant development. Failure of terbinafine therapy may be dependent on host-related factors.