BACKGROUND: Pain during childbirth is a well known cause of dissatisfaction amongst women in labor. The use of epidural analgesia in labor is becoming widespread due to its benefit in terms of pain relief. METHOD: After approval of the local Ethics Committee on Research and obtaining informed written consent, 50 American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class I-II consecutive multiparous women in labor requesting pain relief were enrolled in this prospective study. After providing description of the two options of pain relief available to them, they were allocated into two groups according to their request-to receive either parenteral opioid/sedative or epidural labor analgesia. Both groups received analgesia of choice at 4-cm cervical os dilatation. The epidural group received 0.125% plain bupivacaine, while the other group received pentazocine/promethazine intravenously. The time taken to locate the epidural space, catheter-related complications encountered and the amount of intravenous fluid used were documented. RESULT: The two groups were comparable in terms of socio-demographic data. The mean duration of the first and second stages of labor, respectively, were significantly shorter in the epidural group when compared with those in the non-epidural group ([P < 0.01] and [P < 0.02]). There was no difference in the rate of cesarean delivery between them - epidural analgesia (32% [8/25]) versus parenteral opioid/sedative (44% [11/25]), (OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.19-1.90). The maternal blood loss from delivery was minimal, with no statistical difference between the two groups (P = 0.27). The neonatal outcome was the same in both groups. Closed questionnaire showed that the overall experience of labor was much better (it was also better than expected) in the epidural group when compared with that in the non-epidural group (80% versus 4%). Eighteen (72%) women had inadequate pain relief in the non-epidural group as compared to 2 (8%) women in the epidural group. CONCLUSION: The study shows that epidural labor analgesia is acceptable to women in our setting. More women in the epidural analgesia group were satisfied with the experience of labor than those who did not receive this form of analgesia than among those who received parenteral opioid/sedative.