Summary The study examined the efficacy of chloroquine (CQ), amodiaquine (AQ) and sulphadoxine–pyrimethamine (SP) for the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Ghana. A total of 351 children were randomized to receive either of the three study drugs. Patients were evaluated using the WHO 14-day in vivo antimalarial testing guidelines. The 14-day adequate clinical and parasitological response analysis revealed that CQ, 46.7% (95% CI 37.5, 56.0) has the least efficacy compared with AQ, 86.1% (95% CI 78.3, 91.8) and SP, 77.6% (95% CI 68.9, 84.8). Late parasite failures were also lower and similar in the AQ and SP (9.6% and 10.3%) than in the CQ (32.5%) group. However, CQ and AQ groups showed better fever clearance compared with SP throughout except for day 7 and after when possibly due to its significant late clinical failures, clearance by CQ was lower. Our findings suggest that CQ is no longer useful in Ghana and should be replaced as a first-line treatment of malaria. Replacement of CQ preferably with AQ combination treatment will be an effective and an affordable alternative for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria.