BACKGROUND: This study investigated the effect of pneumoperitoneum on the recovery from intense neuromuscular blockade by rocuronium in healthy patients undergoing laparoscopic abdominal surgery. METHODS: Thirty adult patients undergoing laparoscopic abdominal surgery were studied. Anesthesia was induced with 1.5 mg/kg of propofol, 12 ug/kg of alfentanil and 0.6 mg/kg of rocuronium and maintained with 2 vol% of sevoflurane and 0.05-0.2 microg/kg/min remifentanil. The neuromuscular relaxation was monitored by Train-of-Four (TOF) and post-tetanic count (PTC). Additional rocuronium of 0.2 mg/kg was administered for deep neuromuscular blockade at 30 min after pneumoperitoneum. Before (PPpre) and 30 min after pneumoperitoneum (PPpost), PTC was measured at 6 min intervals. The relationship between PTC and the time interval to reappearance of T1 response was observed. RESULTS: The mean +/- SD of the intervals between the detection of 4 counts of the PTC and the first response to TOF stimulation was 13.0 +/- 1.1 min and 16.4 +/- 6.3 min PPpre and PPpost, respectively (P = 0.20). There were significant negative relationships between PTC observed and the time interval to reappearance of T1 response (adjusted R2 = 0.869, P < 0.001 for PPpre data, and adjusted R2 = 0.561, P < 0.001 for PPpost data). Comparing the difference of regression equation between PPpre and PPpost data using a parallelism test, there was no statistically significant difference (P = 0.193). CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that PP with intra-abdominal pressure at the level of 13-14 mmHg did not affect the recovery from intense neuromuscular blockade by rocuronium in healthy patients undergoing laparoscopic abdominal surgery.