In this study we sought to examine the differences in patients' and health care professionals' preferences for symptoms during immediate postoperative recovery and the management of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). The key differences between symptoms during immediate postoperative recovery (PONV, sedation, and pain) and management of PONV (prophylaxis, efficacy of antiemetic, and extra cost) were used to develop 14 scenarios in a questionnaire. Fifty-two health care professionals (anesthesiologists and recovery room nurses) and 200 women undergoing elective gynecological surgery were recruited (overall response rate, 97%). From patients' and health care professionals' perspectives, conjoint analysis showed that the most important attribute for immediate postoperative recovery was a reduction in the risk of PONV. Health care professionals placed more importance on postoperative sedation than patients did. They were more concerned about the cost of the antiemetic to the patient than the patients were themselves. There was no preference for a policy of effective treatment versus routine prophylaxis. This study shows that there were small differences in the importance of pain, sedation, efficacy of the antiemetic, and extra cost of treatment between patients and health care professionals.