BACKGROUND: Nasogastric tube displacement can result in serious complications such as aspiration and inadvertent migration of the tube into the lungs. Replacement of the tubes is costly, time- and effort-intensive, uncomfortable for the patients, and potentially dangerous. OBJECTIVE: To determine the best of three methods for securing nasogastric tubes in a medical intensive care population and to identify variables related to the failure of tube securing methods. METHODS: A convenience sample of 103 patients requiring duodenal or standard gastric tubes for feeding, medication delivery, or decompression were randomly assigned to one of three taping methods: pink tape, clear tape, or "butterfly," for a total of 264 taping episodes. Data collection included the mean time until failure of the securing methods as well as variables such as patient alertness and mobility. RESULTS: The mean time until failure was 100 hours with pink tape versus 56 hours with clear tape and 30 hours with the "butterfly." Differences were significant. Duodenal tubes stayed secured longer than standard sump tubes (mean time until failure was 86 vs 41 hours) for all taping methods, but not significant relationship was demonstrated between mean time until failure and variables such as alertness, sedation, confusion, mobility, and the use of restraints. CONCLUSION: Our results showed that the pink tape method was superior. Nasogastric tube securing methods in adult critical care patients vary in efficacy and should be selected carefully.