In recent years significant progress has been made in understanding the ecology, epidemiology and related morbidity and development of new tools for the control of soil-transmitted helminths. Such knowledge has recognized the impact of helminth infections on the health of infected groups and has created a rational basis for their control. Schoolchildren harbour some of the most intense helminthic infections, which produce adverse effects on health, growth and scholastic performance. However, although great effort has been put into targeting school-age children, women of child-bearing age and pre-school children are two other groups at high risk of morbidity due to intestinal nematode infections. Highly effective and safety-tested, single-dose anthelminthic drugs are now available, permitting periodical deworming of schoolchildren and other high-risk groups at affordable prices. Four anthelminthics against all intestinal nematodes are included in the WHO Essential Drug List (albendazole, levamisole, mebendazole and pyrantel). Recently ivermectin has also been registered for use against Strongyloides stercoralis in humans. Several well-monitored country experiences have shown that chemotherapy-based control of morbidity due to soil-transmitted helminths is possible and highly cost-effective.