Summary Objective To review the history of the treatment of leprosy and leprosy reactions after World War II. Methods Treatments based on experience and clinical evidence are compared with those advised by the WHO in their quest to eliminate leprosy by the year 2000, later extended to 2005. Results Leprosy is not eliminated. Analyses of data on reaction treatment suggest that the treatment regimens for leprosy reactions as advised by the WHO may lead to more impairment among leprosy patients than the ‘old’ established regimes. Conclusion WHO policies to eliminate leprosy may have jeopardized the proper treatment of leprosy for years to come.