The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of three cognitive behavioural strategies in the management of abortion pain. The interventions were drawn from the multidimensional model of pain suggested by the gate control theory. Forty patients undergoing abortion with local anaesthesia were instructed in one of four interventions: relaxation, pleasant imagery, analgesic imagery, and a pain discussion (attention control) group. Pain was measured using Johnson's two-dimensional graphic rating scales labelled sensation and distress. Speed of recovery and analgesic use were included as objective dependent measures. No significant differences were found among the four groups on any dependent measures although subjects receiving the pleasant imagery intervention reported the lowest subjective ratings of pain sensation and distress. Findings are discussed in terms of past research and implications for the management of acute pain experienced during abortion.