The aim of the present study was to compare postoperative pain and convalescence in patients randomized to laparoscopic or open donor surgery in a prospective, controlled trial. The donors were randomly assigned to undergo laparoscopic (n = 63) or open (n = 59) donor nephrectomy. Our end points were amount of administered analgesics in the recovery period, postoperative pain on the second postoperative day and at one month after surgery and duration of sick leave. There was a significant difference in favor of the laparoscopic group regarding administered analgesics on day of surgery (p < 0. 02). No difference was observed between groups regarding self-reported pain on the second postoperative day. One month post donation, significantly fewer donors in the laparoscopic group reported pain (p < 0. 02) or had used analgesics (p < 0.05). The duration of sick leave was significantly shorter in the laparoscopic group (p = 0.01). The laparoscopic group experienced a more rapid convalescence and a shorter period of sick leave. Although immediate postoperative pain can be managed efficiently regardless of procedure, a lower consumption of opioids and incidence of pain in the convalescent period suggest a clinically relevant patient-experienced benefit from a successful laparoscopic procedure.