A double-blind, randomized trial was undertaken in Guatemala to determine the therapeutic efficacy of an ointment for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis that contained 15% paromomycin and 12% methylbenzethonium chloride and that was applied twice a day for 20 days. The treatment group included 35 patients, and the placebo group included 33 patients. The initial clinical response rate (13 weeks after completing the treatment) was 91.4% in the treatment group and 39.4% in the placebo group. The final clinical response rate at the 12-month follow-up examination was 85.7% (31 of 35) in the treatment group and 39.4% (13 of 33) in the placebo group (P < or = 0.001). In general, the treatment was well tolerated and was never interrupted because of adverse effects. The number of adverse effects reported in the placebo group was lower than in the treatment group (16 events versus 30 events). All adverse effects reported by patients disappeared within 1 week of completing the treatment. Our findings show that the combination of paromomycin with methylbenzethonium chloride for 20 days is a good alternative for antimonial treatments of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Guatemala.