A multicenter, parallel-design, randomized, double-masked study was conducted to compare the efficacy and safety of 2% dorzolamide with those of 0.5% betaxolol in the treatment of elevated intraocular pressure (i.o.p). A total of 311 adults with ocular hypertension or open-angle glaucoma were randomly allocated to receive either 2% dorzolamide administered topically TID or 0.5% betaxolol administered topically BID plus placebo administered topically QD for 12 weeks. After the washout of previous ocular hypotensive drugs, patients with IOP > or = 23 mm Hg in at least one eye at 10 AM or 4 PM on study day 1 were randomly allocated to receive one of the study treatments. Throughout the study, IOP was measured 2 and 8 hours after instillation of study medication for the morning peak effect (hour 2) and afternoon trough effect (hour 8). After 12 weeks of therapy, the mean change in IOP was not significantly different between the dorzolamide and betaxolol treatment groups at hour 8 (-3.6 mm Hg in both groups) or hour 2 (-5.4 vs -5.3 mm Hg, respectively). The differences between treatments (and 95% CIs associated with these differences) in mean IOP changes from baseline were 0.02 mm Hg (-0.870 to 0.901) for hour 8 and -0.14 mm Hg (-0.959 to 0.685) for hour 2. The ocular adverse experience (AE) most frequently reported by patients was ocular burning and/or stinging, and the most frequently reported nonocular AEs were taste perversion, upper respiratory infection, and headache. Only the incidence of taste perversion was significantly different between treatment groups (14.6% for the dorzolamide group and 0.0% for the betaxolol group). Two percent of patients in each treatment group discontinued the study due to AEs. This study confirmed the similar IOP-lowering effect of 2% dorzolamide and 0.5% betaxolol. Both treatments were generally well tolerated, and their safety profiles were similar.