The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of two different relaxation techniques in the management of postoperative pain. The sample consisted of 40 women between the ages of 21 and 65 years who were undergoing elective cholecystectomy. Using an experimental design, participants were randomly assigned to four groups: an experimental group who received a taped recording of a rhythmic breathing exercise (RB); an experimental group who received a taped recording of Benson's Relaxation Technique (BRT); an attention-distraction control group (CA) who received a taped recording of a history of the hospital; and a standard control (CB) group who had only the routine perioperative care which all groups received. Data were collected on postoperative sensation and distress at five time points during the first 72 postoperative hours, number of doses of analgesic medication during the same time period, and number of postoperative hospital days. Data were analysed using multivariate and univariate analyses of variance. The BRT group was significantly different from the CA group on a combined sensation and distress factor (P= 0.011). No significant differences were found among groups for doses of analgesics (P= 0.068) or postoperative hospital days (P= 0.56).