This study was performed to evaluate the effects of cryoanalgesia combined with thoracic epidural analgesia on pain and respiratory complications in patients undergoing thoracotomy. Ninety patients were prospectively randomised to epidural analgesia alone (n = 45) or epidural analgesia and cryoanalgesia combined (n = 45). We monitored the use of rescue pain medication and changes in forced vital capacity and forced expired volume in 1 s, and recorded pain and opioid-related side-effects during the immediate postoperative period. The incidence of post-thoracotomy pain and numbness were also assessed up to the sixth month after surgery. Cryoanalgesia combined with thoracic epidural analgesia was associated with earlier recovery in pulmonary function, less pain during movement and a lower daily requirement for rescue analgesia one week after surgery. However, the combination of cryoanalgesia and epidural analgesia failed to decrease the incidence of long-term pain and numbness. In view of its associated long-term morbidity, cryoanalgesia combined with thoracic epidural analgesia is not recommended for patients undergoing thoracotomy.