To determine the relative analgesic efficacy of ibuprofen 400 mg and acetaminophen 1000 mg, we conducted a single-dose, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial using a standard assay for analgesic agents, the dental pain model. At regular intervals over 6 hours, 184 patients who had undergone dental impaction surgery rated pain intensity and relief on categorical scales and pain half-gone on a dichotomous nominal scale; a categorical overall evaluation was completed at the end of 6 hours. Both active agents were effective compared to placebo. Ibuprofen 400 mg was more effective than acetaminophen 1000 mg for Sum Pain Intensity Difference (SPID), Total Pain Relief (TOTPAR), sum pain half-gone, and overall evaluation (P less than .05 to P less than .001). The time-effect curves demonstrated a greater peak effect and longer duration of action for ibuprofen 400 mg compared to acetaminophen 1000 mg. Side effects were reported in five ibuprofen patients, 11 acetaminophen-treated patients, and seven placebo patients. Based on the results of this clinical study, we conclude that ibuprofen 400 mg is a safe and more effective analgesic than acetaminophen 1000 mg for patients with acute pain.