Talc pleurodesis is commonly used in the palliative treatment of malignant pleural effusions but the shortest and most effective regime has not been determined. In particular, it is not clear when the intercostal drain should be removed following the insertion of sclerosant. We conducted a single-centre, randomised, open trial of drain removal at 24 h versus 72 h following talc slurry pleurodesis. The primary outcome measure was success of pleurodesis (no recurrence of effusion on chest radiograph at 1-month follow-up) and secondary outcome measures included length of hospital stay and mortality. We found no difference between recurrence of pleural effusion in those randomised to drain removal at 24 h and those randomised to drain removal at 72 h (p>0.5). However, length of stay was significantly reduced when the chest drain was removed at 24 h (4 days versus 8 days; p<0.01). Mortality did not differ between the two groups. We conclude that this shorter pleurodesis regime is safe and effective.