A questionnaire designed to assess the knowledge of newly qualified house officers about the management of postoperative pain, was sent to 203 preregistration house officers in the South West region of England. The questionnaire sought information on the following: (1) the prescription of postoperative analgesia for four clinical cases, (2) the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in patients with six medical conditions, and (3) the management of a patient who had an epidural infusion. The response rate was 26% (54 house officers) and only 13% of those circulated answered all four clinical cases appropriately. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was often inappropriate. The management of the patient with a postoperative epidural infusion was inadequate when compared with a minimum safe response protocol designed by the authors. The poor theoretical and practical knowledge demonstrated in this survey indicates that urgent changes are required in the undergraduate curriculum to take account of the recent revolution in the management of severe postoperative pain.