Twenty-eight dogs were randomly allocated into two groups. They were premedicated with either 10 or 20 μg/kg buprenorphine and 0·05 mg/kg acepromazine administered intramuscularly, and then anaesthetised with intravenous thiopentone to effect and maintained with isoflurane in 100 per cent oxygen. The dogs underwent routine castration, and a second dose of 10 μg/kg buprenorphine was administered four hours after the first or 20 μg/kg six hours after the first dose. Levels of pain and sedation were scored on a visual analogue scale and in terms of the dogs' requirement for rescue analgesia, and mechanical nociceptive thresholds were measured at the hock and wound at premedication and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, 10 and 21 to 22 hours later. Pain scores were low in both groups, with a trend for lower scores in the high dose group; administration of the second dose of buprenorphine further decreased the pain scores. Buprenorphine produced good preoperative sedation and the level of sedation decreased over time after surgery. Administration of the second high dose of buprenorphine did not increase the level of sedation. Both doses of buprenorphine prevented hyperalgesia at the wound and hock postoperatively. Three dogs given the low dose and one dog given the high dose required rescue analgesia with carprofen.