Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) advocated for use in painful and inflammatory rheumatic and certain non-rheumatic conditions. It is available in a number of administration forms which can be given orally, rectally or intramuscularly. Conveniently, dosage adjustments are not required in the elderly or in those patients with renal or hepatic impairment. The drug has a relatively short elimination half-life, which limits the potential for drug accumulation. In numerous clinical trials the efficacy of diclofenac is equivalent to that of the many newer and established NSAIDs with which it has been compared. As an analgesic it has a fast onset and long duration of action. When administered intramuscularly it is at least comparable to, and frequently superior to, many narcotic and spasmolytic combinations in renal and biliary colic. Extensive clinical experience has been gained with diclofenac, clearly establishing its safety profile. It is well tolerated compared with other NSAIDs and rarely produces gastrointestinal ulceration or other serious side effects. Thus, diclofenac can be considered as one of the few NSAIDs of 'first choice' in the treatment of acute and chronic painful and inflammatory conditions.