Small-scale studies have suggested a large inter-individual variation in early postoperative pain after laparoscopic cholecystectomy, emphasizing the need for improved analgesic treatment and valid predictors. We investigated prospectively the association between a preoperative nociceptive stimulus by ice water (cold pressor test), neuroticism, dyspepsia, patient history of biliary symptoms, intraoperative factors, and demographic information in 150 consecutive patients undergoing uncomplicated laparoscopic cholecystectomy for their influence on early postoperative pain. During the first postoperative week patients registered overall pain, incisional, visceral, and shoulder pain on a visual analogue scale and verbal rating scale, and daily analgesic requirements were noted. Throughout the first postoperative week overall pain showed a pronounced inter-individual variability. Incisional pain dominated in incidence and intensity compared with visceral pain, which in turn dominated over shoulder pain. In a multivariate analysis model, preoperative neuroticism, sensitivity to cold pressor-induced pain, and age were identified as independent risk factors for early postoperative pain. Our results suggest that future analgesic studies after laparoscopic cholecystectomy should focus on reduction of incisional pain.