BACKGROUND: Most terminal cancer patients suffered from intractable pain. For the treatment of these patients, opioids, via various routes, are usually administered. Continuous epidural opioid, especially morphine, administration is a good method for the management of intractable cancer pain. METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed 347 terminal cancer patients, who had been treated with continuous epidural morphine infusion, between 1999 and 2004. For the epidural infusion, an epidural catheter was inserted, tunneled subcutaneously and exited from the anterior chest or abdomen. Multiday Infursor(R) (Baxter, 0.5 ml/h) was used for the continuous infusion. RESULTS: Of the 347 patients studied, there were 211 males and 136 females. The mean treatment time was 54.7 days, ranging from 5 to 481 days. The mean starting and termination doses of morphine were 32.4 (for 5 days) and 100.0 mg, respectively. The doubling time of the morphine dose was 26.3 days, corresponded to a 3.8 percent increase per day. Incidental catheter removal was the most common side effect, which occurred 130 times in 61 cases. CONCLUSIONS: The procedure of epidural catheterization, with subcutaneous tunneling, was simple and inexpensive. Despite the disadvantages, such as incidental catheter removal, it is a useful method for the control of terminal cancer pain.