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Patients with acute myocardial ischaemic pain would benefit from rapid pain relief. The clinical usefulness of alfentanil, which has a rapid onset of action, was therefore assessed as the initial pain relieving opioid in patients suffering from acute myocardial ischaemic pain. The effects of alfentanil were compared with those of morphine in the prehospital treatment of 40 haemodynamically stable patients suffering from acute ischaemic-type chest pain. After initial assessment, the patients were given either 0.5 mg alfentanil or 5 mg morphine intravenously in a randomized double-blind fashion. The dose was repeated 2 minutes later if severe pain persisted. Arterial pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and pain expressed on a visual analogue scale was measured before and at 2, 4, 6, 10 and 15 minutes after administration of drugs. After randomization, four patients were excluded. Sixteen patients received alfentanil and 20 patients morphine. Pain relief was faster (p < 0.005) in the alfentanil group than in the morphine group. Alfentanil was found to provide effective analgesia during the follow-up period of 15 minutes. No haemodynamic or respiratory side effects occurred. It is concluded that alfentanil is an effective analgesic in the prehospital treatment of myocardial ischaemic pain.