In this patient, parent and investigator blinded, randomized, placebo- controlled study, children undergoing tonsillectomy (mean age 6.4 years) received either intravenous placebo (n = 36) or tropisetron 0.2 mg·kg-1 up to 5 mg (n = 35) at induction of anaesthesia with halothane, nitrous oxide and oxygen. Morphine and paracetamol were given in theatre for postoperative pain. Episodes of vomiting were recorded during the first 24 h after surgery. Intravenous tropisetron was significantly (P < 0.001, chi-squared) more effective than placebo in controlling the incidence and frequency of emesis during the first 24 h: vomiting was reduced from 89% to 46% and the mean number of vomits from 4.6 to 2.4. Minor side-effects occurred equally in both the placebo and active groups. Intravenous tropisetron is an effective and safe antiemetic for reducing postoperative vomiting in children undergoing tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy.