Thirty patients with cancer pain completed a double-blind crossover study comparing controlled-release (CR) and immediate-release (IR) oxycodone. In open-label titration (2 to 21 days), these patients were stabilized on IR oxycodone qid. They were then randomized to double-blind treatment with CR oxycodone q12h or IR oxycodone qid for 3 to 7 days followed by crossover at the same daily dose. Mean (+/- SD) pain intensity (0 = none to 10 = severe) decreased from a baseline of 6.0 +/- 2.2 to 2.7 +/- 1.1 after titration with IR oxycodone dosed qid. Pain intensity remained stable throughout double-blind treatment: 2.7 +/- 1.9 with CR oxycodone and 2.8 +/- 1.9 with IR oxycodone. Acceptability of therapy and pain scores correlated with plasma oxycodone concentrations for each interval and were similar for both medications (IR and CR oxycodone). Adverse events were similar for both formulations. Following repeat dosing under double-blind conditions, oral CR oxycodone administered q12h provided analgesia comparable to IR oxycodone given qid.