Somatostatin-14 has been reported to relieve severe cancer pain when given intraspinally. We have studied a stable analog, octreotide, which is suitable for long-term infusion by a drug pump. In preclinical trials in dogs, chronic intrathecal and intraventricular perfusion at 40 micrograms/h did not produce neurotoxicity. On the basis of these findings cancer patients with pain unrelieved by oral opiates were treated for periods of 13 to 91 days with intrathecal octreotide 5-20 micrograms/h. During octreotide infusion, pain scores were lower while oral opiate usage was reduced. No central or systemic side effects of intrathecal administration were seen. The pain relief occurred in patients who had previously not obtained satisfactory pain control with systemic or intrathecal opiates, which is consistent with a non-opiate spinal pathway. These preliminary findings, if confirmed, suggest that octreotide is a potent non-opiate analgesic appropriate for long-term intrathecal infusion.