A randomized, controlled, cross-over trial compared single doses of 50 mg diclofenac potassium sachets and tablets with placebo in 328 patients with migraine pain, treating 888 attacks. For the primary endpoint 24.7% of the patients were pain free at 2 h postdose with sachets, 18.5% for tablets and 11.7% for placebo. Treatment differences were significant for sachets vs. placebo (P < 0.0001), tablets vs. placebo (P = 0.0040) and for sachets vs. tablets (P = 0.0035). The numbers needed to treat compared with placebo to achieve pain free at 2 h were 7.75 [95% confidence interval (CI) 5.46, 13.35] for sachets and 15.83 (95% CI 8.63, 96.20) for tablets. Sachets were also statistically superior to tablets for sustained headache response, sustained pain free and reduction in headache intensity within the first 2 h postdose measured on a visual analogue scale (P < 0.05). Onset of analgesic effect was 15 min for sachets and 60 min for tablets. Fewer patients needed rescue medication, and there were marked improvements in accompanying symptoms and working ability with both sachets and tablets vs. placebo. No safety issues were identified. This study demonstrates that sachets offer patients suffering from migraine pain a more effective treatment with a faster onset of analgesia when compared with tablets.