Prospects for definitive therapeutic intervention for Rett syndrome (RS) have been elevated by the discovery of mutations in the methyl-CpG binding protein 2 gene (MECP2) in more than 80% of females meeting clinical criteria for this disorder. As such, a review of previous clinical trials, descriptions of the status of clinical management for the prominent medical problems of RS, and a preview of an ongoing clinical trial conducted jointly at the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham are presented. The conduct of controlled clinical trials requires adherence to diagnostic criteria for RS; stratification by age, stage, and presence of MECP2 mutations; and use of clearly defined outcome measures. Previous clinical trials in RS have been conducted with L-carnitine, the ketogenic diet, and the opiate antagonist, naltrexone. The L-carnitine and naltrexone trials were double blind, placebo-controlled and us ed the motor behavioral analysis described in this review. All failed to provide evidence of dramatic improvements in the clinical features of RS. Specific recommendations are presented for clinical management of growth failure, breathing irregularities, seizures, ambulation, scoliosis, gastrointestinal function, self abuse, and habilitation/education although systematic evaluations of each in the context of RS have not been conducted. The only ongoing trial involves dietary supplementation with folate and betaine and is based on the finding that gene expression of some alleles of the agouti gene could be altered by dietary methyl supplementation. The availability of animal models expressing mutations in MECP2 should enhance the evaluation of innovative therapies for RS. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.