This pilot study compares the treatment of osteoarthritic hips by hydrotherapy with that of short wave diathermy and exercises. Fourteen patients were randomly allocated to one of the treatment groups. Outcome measures of pain ratings, function and life satisfaction scales, range of motion and gait assessment by pedabarography were used. There were no significant differences between the groups prior to treatment, but at the end of treatment there were significant differences in pain, function and life satisfaction. Following treatment, pain had decreased significantly (p < 0.02) in both groups. Functional ability had improved in the group treated by hydrotherapy (p < 0.05), who also reported a higher score on the life satisfaction scale. Gait and range of motion did not show any statistically significant changes with either treatment.