The effect of powdered ginger root was compared with metoclopramide and placebo. In a prospective, randomised, double-blind trial the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting was measured in 120 women presenting for elective laparoscopic gynaecological surgery on a day stay basis. The incidence of nausea and vomiting was similar in patients given metoclopramide and ginger (27% and 21%) and less than in those who received placebo (41%). The requirement for postoperative antiemetics was lower in those patients receiving ginger. The requirements for postoperative analgesia, recovery time and time until discharge were the same in all groups. There was no difference in the incidence of possible side effects such as sedation, abnormal movement, itch and visual disturbance between the three groups. Zingiber officinale is an effective and promising prophylactic antiemetic, which may be especially useful for day case surgery.