Kadian/Kapanol (K) is a capsule formulation of morphine designed for 12- or 24-hourly dosing. This double-blind study compared the efficacy and safety of K every 24 hr to K every 12 hr and MS Contin tablets (MSC) every 12 hr. One hundred fifty-two patients with cancer pain were titrated to adequate analgesia with immediate-release morphine (IRM) solution. Stabilized patients were randonized to one of the three treatments for 7 +/- 1 days. Rescue medication was IRM tablets. Efficacy and safety were assessed by time to first remedication and total dose of rescue medication, pain scores, global assessments, and incidence of morphine-related side effects. Fifty-four patients were treated with K every 24 hr. 45 with K every 12 hr. and 53 with MSC every 12 hr. Mean age was 61 years and mean total daily dose of morphine was 138 mg. Forty-six percent of the K every 24 hr patients, 51% of the K every 12 hr patients, and 55% of the MSC every 12 hr patients required rescue medication on the final day. Time to remedication was 16.0 hr for K every 24 hr, 9.1 hr for K every 12 hr and 8.7 hr for MSC every 12 hr (P = 0.0010). Patient global assessment significantly favored K every 24 hr over MSC every 12 hr (P = 0.018). There were no statistically significant differences among the treatments for any morphine-related side effects when adjusted for baseline. K had efficacy and safety profiles similar to MSC every 12 hr but had the advantage of 12- or 24-hourly administration.