The aim of the present study was to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of 540 nm-wavelength intense pulsed light (IPL) for the treatment of telangiectasia in late-stage rosacea. Between July 2013 and January 2016, patients with rosacea who tested positive for Demodex folliculorum were recruited. Patients received anti-mite therapy and were then randomly apportioned to receive either three 540 nm-IPL treatments at 4-week intervals (IPL group), or no treatment (control group). Telangiectasia was assessed by the same clinician at baseline and at follow-up intervals over 2 years, where ≥90% clearance of telangiectasia was considered to indicate effective treatment. The rates of effective treatment, improvement (≥30% clearance) and recurrence (original or neo-location) were compared in both groups. After 33 patients were lost during follow-up, the IPL and control groups were comprised of 107 and 120 patients for the final analysis, respectively. The rates of effective treatment and total efficacy in the IPL group (66.36 and 95.33%, respectively) were found to be significantly higher compared with those of the control group (0 and 30.83%, respectively). By contrast, the rates of recurrence were found to be lower in the IPL group (8.41%) compared with the control group (48.33%). Redness-to-blisters associated with IPL treatment (9.7% of analyzed patients) subsided within one week and hyperpigmentation (1.9%) within 3 months. To conclude, treatment with 540 nm-IPL improved facial telangiectasia in late-stage rosacea that remained after sequential anti-mite therapy and effectively reduced the recurrence of rosacea. The present study was registered into the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry under the title 'Sequential therapy for mites folliculitis' (Trial registration number: ChiCTR-IPR-15006451; approved May 27, 2015).