Although the introduction of tissue culture vaccines for rabies has dramatically improved the immunogenicity and safety of rabies vaccines, they are often prohibitively expensive for developing countries. To examine whether smaller doses of these vaccines could be used, we tested the safety and immunogenicity of purified chick embryo cell vaccine (PCECV) on 211 patients in Thailand with World Health Organization (WHO) category II and III exposures to rabies. The patients presented at two Thai hospitals and were randomized into three groups. Patients in Group 1 received 0.1 ml PCECV intradermally at two sites on days 0, 3, 7, and at one site on days 30 and 90. Group 2 was treated similarly, except that purified Vero cell rabies vaccine (PVRV) was used instead of PCECV. Group 3 received 1.0 ml PCECV intramuscularly on days 0, 3, 7, 14, 30 and 90. After 0, 3, 7, 14, 30 and 90 days serum was collected from the subjects and the geometric mean titres (GMTs) of rabies virus neutralizing antibody determined. After 14 days the GMT of 59 patients vaccinated intradermally with PCECV was equivalent to that of patients who received PVRV. Adverse reactions were more frequent in patients who received vaccines intradermally, indicating the reactions were associated with the route of injection, rather than the vaccine per se. We conclude that PCECV is a safe and highly immunogenic vaccine for postexposure rabies vaccination when administered intradermally in 0.1-ml doses using the two-site method ("2,2,2,0,1,1") recommended by WHO.