The objective of this study was to demonstrate the efficacy, safety and patient acceptability of the use of intranasal sufentanil for cancer-associated breakthrough pain. This was a prospective, open label, observational study of patients in three inpatient palliative care units in Australia. Patients on opioids with cancer-associated breakthrough pain and clinical evidence of opioid responsiveness to their breakthrough pain were given intranasal (IN) Sufentanil via a GO Medical™ patient controlled IN analgesia device. The main outcome measures were pain scores, need to revert to previous breakthrough opioid after 30 min, number of patients who chose to continue using IN sufentanil, and adverse effects. There were 64 episodes of use of IN sufentanil for breakthrough pain in 30 patients. There was a significant reduction in pain scores at 15 (P < 0.0001) and 30 min (P < 0.0001). In only 4/64 (6%) episodes of breakthrough pain did the participants choose to revert to their prestudy breakthrough medication. Twenty-three patients (77%) rated IN sufentanil as better than their prestudy breakthrough medication. The incidence of adverse effects was low and most were mild. Our study showed that IN sufentanil can provide relatively rapid onset, intense but relatively short lasting analgesia and in the palliative care setting it is an effective, practical, and safe option for breakthrough pain.