The present study was designed to investigate whether deep injections of local anesthetics provide better pain control than regular injections of local anesthetics, and to evaluate the influence of basal cervical dilatation and dilatation increase obtained on the painfulness of abortion procedure during legal abortions. A total of 66 women undergoing legal abortion were randomly allocated to treatment with deep injection (n = 31) or regular injection (n = 35) group. Subjects in the deep injection group had paracervical block involving four injections approximately 3 cm deep. Subjects assigned to the regular injection group had paracervical block involving four injections approximately 1.5 cm deep. A pain scale was administered at the end of the dilatation and end of curettage. Both groups were found to be similar with respect to age, parity, previous legal abortion, gestational age, anxiety score, procedure time, basal cervical dilatation, and dilatation increase obtained. The mean pain score during cervical dilatation was less for the deep injection versus the regular injection group (3.3 +/- 1.5 versus 4.0 +/- 1.6, p <0.05). The mean pain score during curettage was significantly less for the deep injection versus the regular injection group (3.0 +/- 1.2 versus 3.9 +/- 1.4, p <0.05). In conclusion, deep injection of local anesthetics is a safe adjunct in the management of legal abortion. Irrespective of injection technique, dilatation pain is correlated negatively with basal cervical dilatation and correlated positively with dilatation increase obtained. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.