Two hundred and twenty-four children aged 6 months to 5 years, with rectal temperatures greater than or equal to 39 degrees C (104 degrees F), were randomly treated with sponging alone or with medication including a single oral dose of aspirin 15 mg/kg, or paracetamol 15 mg/kg, or ibuprofen 8 mg/kg. Twenty-three children were excluded from the final analysis because they did not complete the study. Demographic characteristics of the patients were found to be comparable in all groups. Rectal temperatures were recorded every 30 min for a 3 h period. During the first 30 min of intervention, sponging was found to be more effective than all of the three medications. After 60 min, the effects of each medication became superior to sponging with tepid water in reducing body temperature. Twenty-three children were excluded from the final analysis because they did not complete the study. Comparing the effect of the three different medications, it was seen that the antipyretic efficacy of aspirin and ibuprofen were significantly more than paracetamol 3 h after intervention (P < 0.05). For the management of fever over 39 degrees C, it is therefore recommended to give children an antipyretic drug, preferably ibuprofen, and at the same time to begin sponging to provide a rapid and sustained antipyresis.