Four experiments were conducted to examine the effects of general and local anesthetics given prior to castration on piglet behavior and weight gain. The first experiment showed that use of general anesthesia by xylazine, ketamine hydrochloride and glyceryl guaiacolate for 2-wk-old piglets resulted in the death of 28% of the piglets and, for those that survived, suppressed nursing behavior. In the second experiment, using 2-wk-old piglets, local anesthesia by lidocaine hydrochloride prevented the slight (30 min) castration-induced nursing behavior suppression. In the third and fourth studies, using 7-wk-old pigs, local or general anesthetic did not overcome castration-induced changes in behavior. Castration affected behavior of 7-wk-old pigs for 6 to 8 h. None of the treatments in any of the studies influenced weight gain. We conclude that castration is painful for 2-wk-old and 7-wk-old pigs. The 2-wk-old pig seems behaviorally less affected by castration than does the 7-wk-old pig. Local anesthetic prevented pain-induced behavior changes for 2-wk-old, but not for 7-wk-old, pigs. At present, the FDA does not permit use of these anesthetics in meat-producing animals.