Methylphenidate HCl (Ritalin) is usually given for the treatment of hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder (ADD) at 30 minutes to one hour before meals. This schedule is based on the assumption that, when taken with meals, its absorption or metabolism is altered. However, no behavioral or pharmacologic data exist to support this recommendation. Eleven patients with attention deficit disorder were tested to evaluate this hypothesis using a double-blind crossover design (methylphenidate with or before breakfast) with a placebo control condition. Parents' ratings, performance on a paired-associate learning test, and cortical auditoryevoked potentials were measured. All of these measurements showed clear differences between the placebo condition and conditions when medication was given. However, none of the measurements showed a significant difference between the conditions when methylphenidate was given with breakfast and the condition when methylphenidate was given 30 minutes before breakfast.

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