Critical care can be considered to be a stressful environment at both physiological and psychological levels for patients. In this article, a research study in which a five-minute foot massage was offered to 25 patients (68 sessions in total) as a stress-reduction intervention is described. A quasi-experimental repeated measures design was used to collect data before, during and after the intervention. Physiological data (heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, respirations and peripheral oxygen saturation) were obtained from the patient bedside monitoring system. Repeated measures analysis of variance indicated there was no significant effect from the intervention on peripheral oxygen saturation. However, a significant decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and respirations was observed during the foot massage intervention. Results indicated foot massage had the potential effect of increasing relaxation as evidenced by physiological changes during the brief intervention administered to critically ill patients in intensive care.