BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: A prospective, randomized study was designed to compare the maternal and neonatal effects of conventional epidural anesthesia and combined spinal epidural anesthesia (CSE) for Cesarean section in severe preeclamptic patients. Additionally, two strategies in the prophylactic management of hypotension in severe preeclamptic patients were evaluated: fluid preloading or prophylactic ephedrine. METHODS: Thirty nonlaboring women with severe preeclampsia (PET), scheduled for an elective Cesarean section, were randomised into three groups: epidural anesthesia with prophylactic fluid loading (EA-F), combined spinal epidural anesthesia with prophylactic fluid loading (CSE-F), or combined spinal epidural anesthesia with prophylactic ephedrine (CSE-V). Hemodynamic data were recorded prior and after induction of regional anesthesia at five-minute intervals. The total amount of intravenous administered fluid and the total dose of vasopressors were recorded. RESULTS: Hemodynamic data were similar between the three groups. The incidence and duration of hypotension was similar in all three groups. Significantly more ephedrine was used in the CSE-V group as compared to the CSE-F group. More lactated Ringer's solution was used in the CSE-F group as compared to the CSE-V group. There were no hypertensive episodes and none of the patients developed pulmonary edema. The time period from induction until the start of surgery and the duration of surgery were significantly shorter in both CSE-groups. Neonatal outcome was comparable between the three groups. CONCLUSION: Our results confirm that combined spinal and epidural anesthesia (CSE) is a safe alternative to conventional epidural anesthesia in severe preeclamptic women and that the prophylactic use of ephedrine is effective and safe to prevent and treat spinal hypotension after combined spinal and epidural anesthesia for Cesarean section in severe preeclamptic women.