The aim of this study was to ascertain if the presence of patients' relatives during cardiopulmonary resuscitation altered perceived symptoms of stress in accident and emergency personnel participating in resuscitation attempts. An anonymous structured questionnaire survey of all accident and emergency staff participating in non-traumatic adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation was designed to elicit symptoms of an acute stress reaction within 24 hours based on ICD-10 diagnostic criteria. One hundred and fourteen staff replies were received, a reply rate of 89%. Twenty-five replies had two or more symptoms of an acute stress reaction. The grade or role of the staff member had no influence on the presence of stress symptoms. There was no difference in rates of reporting between staff resuscitating in the presence or absence of relatives. It is concluded that the presence of relatives witnessing resuscitation attempts does not affect self-reported stress symptoms in staff participating in resuscitation attempts.