We have evaluated the use of a disposable device, the Patient Controlled Epidural Infusor, for patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) using pethidine, for pain relief in the first 24 hours after elective Caesarean section. Patients using the Patient Controlled Epidural Infusor (n = 20) were compared with a control group (n = 20) who received PCEA using a standard electronic device. Efficacy, as assessed by visual analogue scores, was comparable to that achieved in the control group. Patient and nursing satisfaction was high and similar to that in the control group. There was a low incidence of side-effects with both devices. Patients using the disposable device used less pethidine than patients using the electronic device (median (interquartile range) 181 (100-275) mg versus 238 (213-375) mg; p = 0.035). Use of this disposable device is an acceptable alternative to more expensive and bulkier electronic devices for PCEA after Caesarean section.