Background: Neck and upper limb symptoms are frequently reported by computer workers. Work style interventions are most commonly used to reduce work-related neck and upper limb symptoms but lifestyle physical activity interventions are becoming more popular to enhance workers health and reduce work-related symptoms. A combined approach targeting work style and lifestyle physical activity seems promising, but little is known on the effectiveness of such combined interventions. Methods/design: The RSI@Work study is a randomised controlled trial that aims to assess the added value of a lifestyle physical activity intervention in addition to a work style intervention to reduce neck and upper limb symptoms in computer workers. Computer workers from seven Dutch companies with frequent or long-term neck and upper limb symptoms in the preceding six months and/or the last two weeks are randomised into three groups: (1) work style group, (2) work style and physical activity group, or (3) control group. The work style intervention consists of six group meetings in a six month period that take place at the workplace, during work time, and under the supervision of a specially trained counsellor. The goal of this intervention is to stimulate workplace adjustment and to improve body posture, the number and quality of breaks and coping behaviour with regard to high work demands. In the combined (work style and physical activity) intervention the additional goal is to increase moderate to heavy physical activity. The control group receives usual care. Primary outcome measures are degree of recovery, pain intensity, disability, number of days with neck and upper limb symptoms, and number of months without neck and upper limb symptoms. Outcome measures will be assessed at baseline and six and 12 months after randomisation. Cost-effectiveness of the group meetings will be assessed using an employer's perspective. Discussion: This study will be one of the first to assess the added value of a lifestyle physical activity intervention in addition to a work style intervention in reducing neck and upper limb symptoms of computer workers. The results of the study are expected in 2007. © 2006 Bernaards et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.