An 'early threshold' protocol for treating cows within 48h of being detected lame in one or more hind limbs at fortnightly mobility scoring was tested on a randomly selected group of cattle on four commercial dairy farms. The outcomes of the early threshold treatment for first cases of lameness were compared with those of the farmers' conventional approach to treatment. The early threshold schedule resulted in a much shorter time to treatment than the conventional approach, for which the median time from the cow first being scored lame to treatment was 65days. The early threshold group presented with less severe foot lesions and cattle were less likely to be selected for further treatments by the farmer than conventionally treated cows. Early threshold treatment reduced the prevalence of lameness 4weeks after treatment, compared with controls. A clear effect of the early treatment on milk yield was not detected.