Our aim was to compare the single puncture technique for arthrocentesis of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) with the double puncture technique and to evaluate the short-term effects of a single puncture. Forty patients were randomly divided into two groups: the first was treated by single puncture, and the second with double puncture, arthrocentesis. During the one-month follow-up period the visual analogue and verbal scales for pain, maximal mouth opening, and satisfaction were evaluated within each group and between the two groups. Both groups recorded significant improvements compared with the baseline values in almost all outcome variables. There were no significant differences between the groups. Arthrocentesis of the TMJ was successful with both techniques. (C) 2015 The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.