We have performed a prospective, questionnaire-based survey on patients' knowledge of and attitudes towards anaesthetists in Hong Kong. Before their preoperative anaesthetic visit, 120 patients completed a three-section questionnaire. The first section consisted of questions designed to assess patients' knowledge about anaesthetists and their practice. The second section was designed to elicit their attitudes to anaesthetists and the third was a set of demographic questions. Seventy percent of patients recognised that anaesthetists are medical doctors and most realised that they provide anaesthesia for surgical procedures. However, there was scant knowledge of anaesthetists' perioperative role or their role in other aspects of patients care such as pain management, intensive care, resuscitation, research, and teaching. Patients felt it was important to be fully informed about the anaesthetic, and were keen to see their anaesthetist both preoperatively and postoperatively.