Advanced trauma life support (ATLS) has become a desirable or even essential part of training for many surgeons and anaesthetists, but aspects of the ATLS course have attracted criticism. In the absence of published data on the views of trainees, this study sought their opinions in a structured questionnaire, which was completed by trainees in accident and emergency (A & E) (26), anaesthetic (82), general surgical (26), orthopaedic (42) and other (5) posts in different hospitals (response rate 66%). Of the trainees, 78% had done an ATLS course and, of these, 83% considered ATLS a 'major advantage' or 'essential' for practising their proposed specialty--100% for A & E, 94% for orthopaedics, 92% for general surgery, and 75% for anaesthetics. ATLS was considered a major curriculum vitae (CV) advantage by 94%, 85%, 50%, and 45%, respectively. Over 90% had positive attitudes towards ATLS, and 74% selected 'genuine improvement of management of trauma patients' as the most important reason for doing the course: 93% thought ATLS saved lives. Of the respondents, 83% thought that all existing consultants dealing with trauma patients should have done the course, and 41% thought it offered major advantages to doctors not involved in trauma. Funding problems for ATLS courses had been experienced by 14% trainees. This survey has shown that most trainees view ATLS positively. They believe that it provides genuine practical benefit for patients, and very few regard ATLS primarily as a career advantage or mandate.