The analgesic efficacy of EMLA cream was compared with that produced by infiltration of lignocaine solution when used to provide anaesthesia for cutting of skin grafts. The study was performed as an open parallel group comparison in 80 patients. Pain felt during administration of the anaesthetic and during cutting of the graft was assessed using visual analogue and verbal rating scales. During graft cutting, the anaesthesia produced by EMLA was at least as effective as infiltration. On administration, infiltration produced varying amounts of pain in all patients, but in contrast EMLA produced no discomfort. In view of this lack of discomfort and the consequent greater freedom afforded regarding the area of donor site anaesthetised, EMLA can be considered the treatment of choice when skin grafts are harvested under local anaesthetic.