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The use of adrenaline added to bupivacaine during epidural analgesia for labour is controversial. The effects of epidural analgesia with bupivacaine containing adrenaline on maternal blood pressure and heart rate, uterine activity, progress of labour, fetal heart rate and Apgar scores, were assessed using visual analogue pain scores, upper level of sensory block and motor blockade in 60 parturients who were allocated randomly to receive: 10 mL of bupivacaine 0.25% plain (group I) or with adrenaline 5 μg mL−1 (group II) or with adrenaline 1.66 μg mL−1 (group III).The first stage of labour was significantly longer in group II than in group I [414±49 vs. 296±24 min (±SD)]. There were no other significant differences. It is concluded that adrenaline at 5 μg mL−1 significantly prolongs the first stage of labour. Neither adrenaline 5 μg mL−1 nor 1.66 μg mL−1 has any beneficial effect.