Patient satisfaction after anaesthesia is an important outcome of hospital care. We analysed our anaesthetic database to identify potentially modifiable factors associated with dissatisfaction. At the time of analysis, our database contained information on 10,811 in-patients interviewed on the first day after operation. The major subjective outcome measure was patient satisfaction. We also measured other predetermined outcomes, such as nausea, vomiting, pain and complications. The overall level of satisfaction was high (96.8%); 246 (2.3%) patients were 'somewhat dissatisfied' and 97 (0.9%) were 'dissatisfied' with their anaesthetic care. After adjustment for patient and surgical factors, there was a strong relation between patient dissatisfaction and: (i) intraoperative awareness (odds ratio (OR) 54.9, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 15.7-191); (ii) moderate or severe postoperative pain (OR 3.94, 95% CI 3.16-4.91); (iii) severe nausea and vomiting (OR 4.09, 95% CI 3.18-5.25); and (iv) any other postoperative complications (OR 2.04, 95% CI 1.61-2.56). Several factors associated with dissatisfaction may be preventable or better treated.