Topical corticosteroids remain the first-line therapy for atopic dermatitis (AD). Hence, we investigated the efficacy and safety profile of a novel selective corticosteroid, GW870086. We performed 2 randomised, double-blind, controlled studies with 25 AD patients and 20 healthy subjects. The changes in the Three-Item Severity (TIS) score and the skin thickness were the primary end points, respectively. The adjusted TIS score (day 22) shows that the novel corticosteroid resulted in a non-significant, but dose-dependent reduction compared to placebo (GW870086 0.2% vs. placebo = -0.38, GW870086 2% vs. placebo = -0.89). Significant skin thinning was observed in the second study on days 14 and 21 when patients were treated with the comparator but not with the novel corticosteroid compared to placebo. The clinical efficacy of the new selective corticosteroid was not superior to placebo, although a dose-dependent improvement upon treatment was noticed without the onset of skin thinning.