Although the tocolytic effect of magnesium sulfate is well known, it has generally been used for this purpose for only brief periods. In this study, we administered intravenous magnesium sulfate tocolysis, either alone or in combination with other tocolytics, to 111 women as follows: 1) 60 (54%) received the drug for 3 or fewer days (short-term group); 2) 29 (26%) received the drug for 3-10 days (intermediate group); and 3) 22 (20%) received the drug for 10 days or longer (long-term group). Side effects (ileus and/or constipation, visual blurring, headache) were more common in the intermediate and long-term groups, but no life-threatening complications were seen. The drug was discontinued because of side effects in 7% of the patients in each group. We believe our data indicate that there need be no time limit and that magnesium sulfate tocolysis may be continued as clinically indicated.