Tenoxicam is a long-acting nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent that appears to have the ability to control pain of musculoskeletal origin. A double-blind randomized crossover study was designed to determine the efficacy of tenoxicam for pain relief following third molar surgery by comparing it with paracetamol. Immediately before surgery, 30 Chinese patients with bilateral symmetrically impacted mandibular third molars were given 40 mg of tenoxicam for surgery on one side and 1,000 mg of paracetamol for surgery on the other. Both paracetamol and tenoxicam were efficient as pain relievers after third molar surgery. Tenoxicam had comparable efficacy to paracetamol, but did not provide any advantage in terms of duration of action. The discrepancy between the clinical observation and pharmacokinetic prediction may be related to the strong serum binding property of tenoxicam.