Nationally accepted resuscitation courses offer few guidelines for terminating unsuccessful cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Data were collected from 305 physicians and nurses in 1988/1989 and 401 physicians, nurses, and laypersons in 1998/1999 to assess their attitudes and expectations about adult and pediatric CPR. Respondents felt pediatric CPR efforts should continue longer than adult CPR efforts. Respondents in 1998/1999 felt CPR efforts did not need to continue as long as the 1988/1989 respondents felt. Laypersons thought that 52% of adult CPRs and 63% of pediatric CPRs were successful. Although lower than laypersons' expectations, health care professionals' expectations of CPR success were also unrealistic; physicians believed 24% of adult and 41% of pediatric CPRs were successful and nurses believed 30% of adult and 45% of pediatric CPRs were successful. Health care professionals also indicated that they had a clearer idea of when to terminate adult CPR than pediatric CPR.