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Propofol (2,6,di-isopropylphenol) was given by continuous intravenous infusion to provide sedation after cardiac surgery in 30 patients and its effects compared with those of midazolam given to a further 30 patients. Propofol infusion allowed rapid and accurate control of the level of sedation, which was satisfactory for longer than with midazolam. Patients given propofol recovered significantly more rapidly from their sedation once they had fulfilled the criteria for weaning from artificial ventilation and as a result spent a significantly shorter time attached to a ventilator. There were no serious complications in either group. Both medical and nursing staff considered the propofol infusion to be superior to midazolam in these patients. These findings suggest that propofol is a suitable replacement for etomidate and alphaxalone-alphadolone for sedating patients receiving intensive care.