The Canadian Collaborative Acute Pain Initiative, established in 2002, is a voluntary, multidisciplinary consortium of acute pain health professionals from across Canada whose goal is to improve acute pain management through discussion and consensus. The group met in January 2002 to define strategic areas related to the treatment of acute pain. The areas identified were: the definition of pain; the epidemiology of pain; the concept of an 'ideal' acute pain management service; education; therapeutic options; symptom management; and research and safety. In November 2002, a second meeting was held to develop objectives and recommendations for the management of acute pain based on the defined areas. The outcome of these discussions is summarized in this paper.