Supplemental analgesics are commonly used to enhance analgesia and improve patient comfort during procedures performed under local anesthesia and sedation. Because the use of ketamine as an analgesic adjunct to propofol sedation has not been well established, we evaluated its impact on analgesia, sedation, and recovery after ambulatory surgery. One hundred female outpatients undergoing breast biopsy procedures under local anesthesia participated in this randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. After premedication with midazolam, 2 mg IV, patients received an infusion of a solution containing propofol (9.4 mg/mL) in combination with either placebo (saline) (Group 1) or ketamine, 0.94 mg/mL (Group 2), 1.88 mg/mL (Group 3), or 2.83 mg/mL (Group 4). The sedative infusion rate was varied to maintain a deep level of sedation (Observer Assessment of Alertness/Sedation score 4) and normal respiratory and hemodynamic functions. Sufentanil, 2.5 microg IV, "rescue" boluses were used as needed to treat patients' responses (if any) to local anesthetic infiltration or surgical stimulation. Ketamine produced a dose-dependent reduction in the "rescue" opioid requirements. However, there was an increase in postoperative nausea and vomiting, psychomimetic side effects, and delay in discharge times with the largest ketamine dosage (Group 4). The adjunctive use of ketamine during propofol sedation provides significant analgesia and minimizes the need for supplemental opioids. The combination of propofol (9.4 mg/mL)/ketamine (0.94-1.88 mg/mL) provides effective sedation/analgesia during monitored anesthesia care. Ketamine, when used in subhypnotic dosages, may be an useful adjuvant to propofol sedation.