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The authors sought to define a dose of oral ketamine that would facilitate induction of anesthesia without causing significant side effects. Forty-five children (ASA Physical Status 1 and 2; aged 1–7 yr) were assigned randomly in a prospective, double-blind fashion to three separate groups that received either 3 mg/kg, 6 mg/kg, or no ketamine mixed in 0.2 ml/kg cola-flavored soft drink. They also were evaluated preoperatively and postoperatively for acceptance of oral ketamine as a premedicant, reaction to separation from parents, emotional state, and emergence phenomena. The authors detected no episodes of respiratory depression, tachycardia, or arterial hemoglobin desaturation before, during, or after surgery. The 6 mg/kg dose was well accepted; provided uniform, predictable sedation within 20–25 min; and allowed calm separation from parents and good induction conditions. The 3 mg/kg dose did not always cause sedation and calm separation from parents. Neither dose of ketamine increased the incidence of laryngospasm, prolonged recovery times, or caused emergence phenomena. The authors conclude that an oral dose of 6 mg/kg ketamine is easily administered and well accepted in young children and provides predictable, satisfactory premedication without significant side effects.