Chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP) may affect up to 70% of patients after surgery. Glial and immune mediators have been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic postsurgical pain. Our objective was to study cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum concentrations of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IFNγ and TNFα over a 72-hour period in patients undergoing a thoracotomy and oesophagectomy. Despite adequate pain control, thoracotomy was still associated with significant central and peripheral inflammation. This must be taken into consideration in planning future strategies to prevent CPSP.