Flexible cystoscopy is commonly performed under local anaesthesia. Instillation of lignocaine gel is commonly associated with urethral discomfort, which in some cases results in fierce opposition to further flexible cystoscopy under local anaesthesia. Although studies have demonstrated that the temperature of lignocaine can influence the level of discomfort experienced, to date no study has investigated the influence of the rate of lignocaine delivery on perceived discomfort. We therefore performed a prospective, randomised study to investigate this in patients undergoing flexible cystoscopy. One hundred consenting men were randomised to receive 11 ml of 2% lignocaine hydrochloride gel over either 2 or 10 s. The groups were well matched for age. After instillation of the gel, the patients were immediately asked to score their discomfort using a visual analogue scale. The discomfort experienced by patients that received the gel over 10 s was significantly (p < 0.05; Student's t test) less than those that received it over 2 s. This was irrelevant of the age of the patient and the number of previous cystoscopies performed. We have demonstrated that slow administration results in decreased discomfort. This may, in turn, reduce the need to resort to general anaesthesia, which is associated with increased morbidity and cost.