The intraoperative effects of continuous spinal anaesthesia, and the efficacy of postoperative continuous spinal analgesia in 48 elderly high risk patients undergoing major abdominal, vascular or orthopaedic surgery is reported. Intraoperative anaesthetic technique proved to be safe and provided satisfactory results in the immediate postoperative period. Furthermore, the postoperative analgesic regimen which involved intrathecal fentanyl and bupivacaine, and intravenous tenoxicam, provided effective analgesia for all patients. The intrathecal analgesic regimen was administered continuously through a PCA pump which had the facility to provide bolus doses when requested in predetermined lockout intervals. The mean doses of fentanyl and bupivacaine infused intrathecally for the first 24 h postoperatively were 14.5±1.5 μg h−1 (mean±SD) and 0.72±0.08mg h−1 (mean±SD), respectively, while the requirements for analgesia decreased progressively over time but lasted for 118 h. The technique provided effective analgesia with low pain scores that was reflected by the ease in performing physical exercises and the pleasant co-operation with the physiotherapist. Only minor complications related to anaesthesia/analgesia were encountered.