Over the past 20 yr, 40 controlled studies have been described concerning the effects of L-tryptophan on human sleepiness and/or sleep. The weight of evidence indicates that L-tryptophan in doses of 1 g or more produces an increase in rated subjective sleepiness and a decrease in sleep latency (time to sleep). There are less firm data suggesting that L-tryptophan may have additional effects such as decrease in total wakefulness and/or increase in sleep time. Best results (in terms of positive effects on sleep or sleepiness) have been found in subjects with mild insomnia, or in normal subjects reporting a longer-than-average sleep latency. Mixed or negative results occur in entirely normal subjects--who are not appropriate subjects since there is no room for improvement. Mixed results are also reported in severe insomniacs and in patients with serious medical or psychiatric illness.