The object of the study was to assess the comparative efficacy of three single doses (200, 400, 600 mg) of soluble ibuprofen and ibuprofen tablets after third molar surgery in 148 patients and aged 18-40 years. Outcome was measured by overall assessment of pain (AUC360) assessed from serial visual analogue scales, the number of patients taking additional analgesic and by overall assessment of medication evaluated on a five-point categorical scale. Over the 6-hour investigation period all the ibuprofen treatments with the exception of ibuprofen tablets 200 mg resulted in significantly less pain (p < 0.05) than placebo treatment. A large number of patients required additional analgesia during the investigation period, but the time to taking it was significantly earlier in the placebo group. No significant dose response (p > 0.05) was observed for either ibuprofen preparations assessed by the outcome variable of overall pain experience (AUC360) or time to additional analgesia. There was no significant difference in pain scores or time to taking additional analgesics between the respective doses of soluble and tablet formulations of ibuprofen. Both soluble and tablet formulations of ibuprofen provide effective pain control in the early postoperative period after removal of impacted third molars. There is little analgesic advantage in increasing the dose to 600 mg and only minimal benefit from using a soluble formulation of the drug.