Lignocaine added to the anaesthetic preparation Diprivan® reduces propofol induced pain on injection. This effect is due to a drop in pH which decreases the content of propofol in the aqueous phase of the soya bean emulsion. This in turn changes the electrostatic forces in the emulsion and destabilization occurs. The effect of lignocaine on the anaesthetic potency of propofol was validated in a randomized blind study in the rat. The induction dose of 1% propofol mixed with 1% lignocaine (10 + 1) was significantly higher when compared with the induction dose of propofol 1% given after a separate injection of 1% lignocaine (9.4±5.5 vs. 5.6±5.2 mg; P<0.05). The duration of sleep was shorter in rats injected with propofol 1% mixed with lignocaine 1% (10 + 1) compared with those given 1% lignocaine and 1% propofol in separate injections (160±181 vs. 375±202 s; P<0.05). The anaesthetic potency of propofol was not significantly changed by the addition of either saline or hydrochloric acid. The anaesthesia inducing effect was not time-dependent. A similar lower potency was observed for a solution stored for 4 h compared with one freshly prepared, although sleeping time was longer (9.2±6.8 mg; 428±110 s) as compared with the 4 h mixture. The results indicate that lignocaine altered the propofol preparation. The reduced anaesthetic potency of propofol after addition of lignocaine is not due to the resultant drop in pH, which is known to occur.