AIMS--This study examined the effects on intraocular pressure, pulse rate, and blood pressure of low dose intravenous sedation with propofol. METHODS--Twenty adult patients who were scheduled to undergo cataract surgery were given a single intravenous bolus (0.98 (SEM 0.4) mg/kg) of propofol for sedation before administering the local anaesthetic for cataract surgery. A small intravenous dose of lignocaine was the only other anaesthetic or sedative agent given. The intraocular pressure in the non-surgery eye, the pulse rate, and the blood pressure were measured before and after propofol induction. RESULTS--Compared with the preinduction baseline, there was a 17% to 27% (from 16.2 (0.7) mm Hg to 11.8 (0.7) mm Hg) decrease in intraocular pressure after propofol induction. A significant decrease in intraocular pressure occurred within the first minute and was still evident at 7 minutes when the measurements were stopped. There was also a 7%-12% increase in pulse rate during the first 4 minutes, a 12% decrease in mean systolic blood pressure, and a 7% decrease in mean diastolic blood pressure from baseline after propofol induction. CONCLUSION--A single low dose bolus of propofol used for sedation before cataract surgery caused a moderate reduction in intraocular pressure with minimal, easily managed side effects.