Intravenous morphine and oxycodone were given double blind in doses of 0.05 mg/kg after major abdominal surgery to 39 patients. The dosing interval was 5 min, until the patient did not want any further analgesics. Less oxycodone was needed than morphine, both to achieve the "first state of pain relief" (13.2 mg vs. 24.9 mg) and during the whole 2-h study period (21.8 mg vs. 34.2 mg). The "first state of pain relief" was achieved faster (28 min vs. 46 min) and lasted longer (39 min vs. 27 min) with oxycodone than morphine. Morphine caused more sedation and a greater decrease in the mean arterial blood pressure than oxycodone. In other respects the two opioids were comparable.