The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether total intravenous anesthesia (TIVA) with propofol and remifentanil differs from inhalational anesthesia with desflurane and nitrous oxide in terms of hemodynamics, recovery profile, and postoperative analgesic demand in patients undergoing elective microsurgical vertebral disk resection. A total of 60 patients were randomly assigned to receive TIVA with propofol and remifentanil or inhalational anesthesia with desflurane and nitrous oxide. The TIVA group (n=30) then received 50%/50% N2O/O2. A constant infusion of remifentanil was provided at 0.125 μg/kg/min accompanied by propofol at 10 mg/kg/h in the first 10 min, 6 mg/kg/h in the second 10 min, then 4 mg/kg/h. The desflurane group (n=30) received 50%/ 50% N2O/O2, with 5% desflurane after intubation and 6% before incision; desflurane was administered in a minimum alveolar concentration 1 fashion during the operation. Hemodynamic, O2 saturation, and end-tidal CO2 data were recorded before induction, after intubation, after prone positioning, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 min into the operation, and at 15-min intervals thereafter until the end of the operation. Details on perioperative bradycardia, hypotension or hypertension, spontaneous breathing, extubation, eye opening, recovery time of ability to give name and date of birth, postoperative nausea and vomiting, shivering, agitation, and hypoxia were recorded. Patients anesthetized with desflurane responded to skin incision with increasing blood pressure and tachycardia; however, no other hemodynamic differences were noted between the 2 groups. In the TIVA group, recovery times were shorter for spontaneous ventilation (2.33–3.53 min), extubation (3.13–3.88 min), eye opening (4.06–6.23 min), and being able to give name and date of birth (5.4–7.9 min) compared with times in the desflurane group (P<.05). In theTIVA group, more postoperative shivering (16.7% of patients) and greater analgesic demand were seen than in the desflurane group. Although nausea and vomiting were more common in the desflurane group, no difference in bronchospasm was reported. In theTIVA group, a shorter recovery period and a greater demand for postoperative analgesia were seen. Because of the lack of residual analgesic effects, postoperative analgesic treatment should be initiated immediately in patients undergoing TIVA.