Pain and speed of convalescence are the two main problems after uncomplicated laparoscopic cholecystectomy. We therefore identified interventional and descriptive studies in electronic databases and supplemented them with manual searches. Pain and interventional analgesic studies were analysed with reference to the effects on specific pain components after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Convalescence and factors associated with early recovery were also analysed. Pain after cholecystectomy is most intense for the first 2-3 days with a high interindividual variability and dominated by incisional pain rather than other pain components. Early pain after cholecystectomy is reduced by minimising residual pneumoperitoneum and by giving incisional local anaesthetics, epidural analgesia, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There are inconclusive data about type and pressure of pneumoperitoneum, the use of intraperitoneal local anaesthetics, and the type of general anaesthesia. Pain and medico-cultural traditions are the main factors responsible for prolonged convalescence after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. To minimise pain and the duration of convalescence, we recommend multi-modal analgesic treatment in combination with short, standardised instructions to resume work and normal activity.