BACKGROUND Clonidine has been added to local anesthetic regimens for various peripheral nerve blocks, resulting in prolonged anesthesia and analgesia. The authors postulated that using clonidine as a component of intravenous regional anesthesia (IVRA) would enhance postoperative analgesia. METHODS Forty-five patients undergoing ambulatory hand surgery received IVRA with lidocaine, 0.5%, and were assigned randomly and blindly to three groups. The control group received intravenous saline, the intravenous clonidine group received 1 microg/kg clonidine intravenously, and the IVRA clonidine group received 1 microg/kg clonidine as part of the IVRA solution. After their operations, the patients' pain and sedation scores and analgesic use were recorded. RESULTS Patients in the IVRA clonidine group had a significantly longer period of subjective comfort when they required no analgesics (median [range]) for 460 min (215-1,440 min), compared with 115 min (14-390 min) for the control group and 125 min (17-295 min) for the intravenous clonidine group (P<0.0001). The patients who received IVRA with clonidine reported significantly lower pain scores 1 and 2 h after tourniquet deflation compared with the other groups, and they required no fentanyl in the postanesthesia care unit. They also required fewer analgesic tablets (325 mg acetaminophen with 30 mg codeine) in the first 24 h (2+/-1, mean +/- SD) compared with the other two groups, 5+/-1 tablets (control) and 4+/-2 tablets (intravenous clonidine) (P<0.0001). No significant postoperative sedation, hypotension, or bradycardia developed in any of the patients. CONCLUSION The addition of 1 microg/kg clonidine to lidocaine, 0.5%, for IVRA in patients undergoing ambulatory hand surgery improves postoperative analgesia without causing significant side effects during the first postoperative day.