The analgesic effects of morphine applied topically to painful ulcers was assessed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover pilot study of five patients with painful sacral sores. Patients were treated for two days with either 10 mg morphine sulfate or placebo (water for injection) applied topically to the ulcer. After a two-day wash-out period, patients were crossed over for a further two days of the alternative treatment. Patients were asked to rate analgesia using a visual analogue scale (VAS) and to document any local or systemic adverse effects. All patients reported lower VAS scores with morphine compared to placebo and no local or systemic adverse events attributable to morphine were noted by either patients or nursing staff. This pilot study suggests that morphine applied topically is an effective method of producing local analgesia, well tolerated by patients, and not associated with systemic adverse effects.