There are few complications associated with intravenous regional anaesthesia but convulsions with loss of consciousness induced by local anaesthetic toxicity may result in pulmonary aspiration. In many hospitals, patients are fasted prior to the procedure although such a delay would be of little value if gastric emptying was inhibited following painful injury. Utilizing the kinetics of paracetamol absorption, we investigated the rate of gastric emptying in patients sustaining a Colles' fracture within the previous 4 h. Post-manipulation control values were obtained at their first out-patient attendance. There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of gastric emptying. Since gastric emptying is not delayed by a recent Colles' fracture, the simple precaution of fasting patients prior to intravenous regional anaesthesia should reduce the risk of pulmonary aspiration.