In response to the spread of chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, MalaÅµi changed its first-line antimalarial drug in 1993 from chloroquine to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP). Surveillance data has suggested that resistance to SP may be increasing. We compared the efficacy of SP with a potential successor, mefloquine (MQ). By use of a modified World Health Organization in vivo protocol, children infected with P. falciparum were randomized to receive SP (sulfadoxine 25 mg/kg) or MQ (15 mg/kg). We observed combined RII and RIII parasitologic failures of 20.0 and 22.0% in the SP and MQ arms, respectively. Among those in the MQ arm, the relative hazard of failing with a Day 2 drug level < 500 ng/mL was 10.6 times higher than those with levels > or = 500 ng/mL. Given the decreased efficacy of the first-line antimalarial drug and the high failure rates of MQ at this lower dosage, MalaÅµi should consider assessing the efficacy and feasibility of alternative drugs to treat uncomplicated falciparum malaria.