We assessed the analgesic efficacy of IV propacetamol and ketorolac in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study involving patients undergoing total hip or knee replacement procedures. On the first morning after major joint replacement surgery, 164 patients experiencing moderate-to-severe pain were randomly assigned to receive an IV infusion of propacetamol (2 g), ketorolac (15 or 30 mg), or placebo (saline). Patient-controlled analgesia with morphine was made available as a "rescue" analgesic on patient's request during the 6-h postdosing evaluation period. The median time to onset of analgesia with propacetamol (8 [95% confidence interval 6,10] min) was shorter than ketorolac 15 mg (14 [7,16] min), and placebo (16 [8; not estimable] min) although the differences did not reach statistical significance. However, compared with ketorolac 30 mg, propacetamol had a shorter duration of analgesia (3.5 [2;5.4] vs 6 [3.3; not estimable] h). Analysis of pain intensity and pain relief scores demonstrated that propacetamol produced a significantly greater improvement in pain relief than saline from 45 min until 5 h after the injection. Propacetamol was not significantly different from ketorolac 15 mg and 30 mg with respect to the main analgesic efficacy variables during the 6-h assessment period. The most frequently reported adverse event with propacetamol was injection site pain (28% vs 19% for ketorolac 15 mg, 29% for ketorolac 30 mg, and 10% for placebo, respectively). In conclusion, propacetamol (2 g IV) possesses a similar analgesic efficacy to ketorolac (15 or 30 mg IV) after total hip or knee replacement surgery.