Surgical training has undergone many changes in the last decade. One outcome of these changes is the interest that has been generated in the possibility of training surgical skills outside the operating theatre. Simulation of surgical procedures and human tissue, if perfect, would allow complete transfer of techniques learnt in a skills laboratory directly to the operating theatre. Several techniques of simulation are available including artificial tissues, animal models and virtual reality computer simulation. Each is discussed in this article and their advantages and disadvantages considered.