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Pantoprazole is frequently administered to critically ill patients for prophylaxis against gastrointestinal bleeding. However, comparison to placebo has been inadequately evaluated, and pantoprazole has the potential to cause harm. Our objective was to evaluate benefit or harm associated with pantoprazole administration.Prospective randomized double-blind parallel-group study.University-affiliated mixed medical-surgical ICU.Mechanically ventilated critically ill patients suitable for enteral nutrition.We randomly assigned patients to receive either daily IV placebo or pantoprazole.Major outcomes were clinically significant gastrointestinal bleeding, infective ventilator-associated complication or pneumonia, and Clostridium difficile infection; minor outcomes included overt bleeding, hemoglobin concentration profiles, and mortality. None of the 214 patients randomized had an episode of clinically significant gastrointestinal bleeding, three patients met the criteria for either an infective ventilator-associated complication or pneumonia (placebo: 1 vs pantoprazole: 2), and one patient was diagnosed with Clostridium difficile infection (0 vs 1). Administration of pantoprazole was not associated with any difference in rates of overt bleeding (6 vs 3; p = 0.50) or daily hemoglobin concentrations when adjusted for transfusion rates of packed red cells (p = 0.66). Mortality was similar between groups (log-rank p = 0.33: adjusted hazard ratio for pantoprazole: 1.68 [95% CI, 0.97–2.90]; p = 0.06).We found no evidence of benefit or harm with the prophylactic administration of pantoprazole to mechanically ventilated critically ill patients anticipated to receive enteral nutrition. The practice of routine administration of acid-suppressive drugs to critically ill patients for stress ulcer prophylaxis warrants further evaluation.