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The therapeutic efficacy of zinc gluconate lozenge therapy in experimentally induced rhinovirus infection was assessed in two randomized controlled trials in susceptible adult volunteers. In trial 1, lozenges containing either zinc gluconate (23 mg of elemental zinc) or placebo were given 36 h after nasal inoculation of rhinovirus type 39 and administered eight times per day for 5 days. All of the volunteers had early cold symptoms at the time that treatment was begun. In trial 2, the same lozenge regimen was used, beginning 2 h after nasal inoculation with rhinovirus type 13, and continued for 7 days. Zinc therapy did not reduce the severity or duration of cold symptoms or the frequency or duration of viral shedding in either trial. Viral titers were measured in trial 2 and were shown to be unaffected by zinc therapy. Nasal mucus weights and the numbers of paper tissues used were slightly higher in zinc recipients. A statistically significant increase in levels of zinc in serum was documented in zinc recipients after 5 days of therapy. These data suggest that zinc gluconate lozenge therapy is not therapeutically useful in the treatment of rhinovirus colds.