Background Negative symptoms of schizophrenia have a severe impact on functional outcomes and treatment options are limited. Arts therapies are currently recommended but more evidence is required. Aims To assess body psychotherapy as a treatment for negative symptoms compared with an active control (trial registration: ISRCTN84216587). Method Schizophrenia out-patients were randomised into a 20-session body psychotherapy or Pilates group. The primary outcome was negative symptoms at end of treatment. Secondary outcomes included psychopathology, functional, social and treatment satisfaction outcomes at treatment end and 6-months later. Results In total, 275 participants were randomised. The adjusted difference in negative symptoms was 0.03 (95% CI -1.11 to 1.17), indicating no benefit from body psychotherapy. Small improvements in expressive deficits and movement disorder symptoms were detected in favour of body psychotherapy. No other outcomes were significantly different. Conclusions Body psychotherapy does not have a clinically relevant beneficial effect in the treatment of patients with negative symptoms of schizophrenia.