A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled 8-week study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of gabapentin in the treatment of neuropathic pain, using doses up to 2400 mg/day. The study used a novel design that was symptom- rather than syndrome-based; an approach that aimed to reflect the realities of clinical practice. Participants had a wide range of neuropathic pain syndromes, with at least two of the following symptoms: allodynia, burning pain, shooting pain, or hyperalgesia. Patients were randomised to gabapentin (n=153) or placebo (n=152). Gabapentin was given in three divided doses, initially titrated to 900 mg/day over 3 days, followed by two further increases, to a maximum of 2400 mg/day if required by the end of week 5. The primary outcome measure was changed in average daily pain diary score (baseline versus final week). Over the 8 week study, this score decreased (i.e. improved) by 1.5 (21%) in gabapentin treated patients and by 1.0 (14%) in placebo treated patients (P=0.048, rank-based analysis of covariance). Significant differences were shown in favour of gabapentin (P<0.05) for the Clinician and Patient Global Impression of Change, and some domains of the Short Form-McGill Pain Questionnaire. Improvements were also shown in patient-reported outcomes in quality of life, as seen by significant differences in favour of gabapentin in several domains of the Short-Form-36 Health Survey. Gabapentin was well tolerated and the majority of patients completed the study (79 versus 73% for placebo). The most common adverse events were mild to moderate dizziness and somnolence, most of which were transient and occurred during the titration phase. This study shows that gabapentin reduces pain and improves some quality-of-life measures in patients with a wide range of neuropathic pain syndromes.