The records of 15030 labour epidural blocks were analysed. Seventy-two accidental dural punctures (ADP) were recognised at the time of the procedure. In 34 women an epidural catheter was inserted intrathecally through the Tuohy needle and continuous spinal analgesia provided. In a further 37 women the primary management of ADP was to resite an epidural catheter. One woman who received a microspinal catheter later in labour was excluded from analysis. There were no significant differences in maternal characteristics, quality of labour analgesia and anaesthesia, or mode of delivery between the groups. Three repeat ADPs occurred during attempts to resite the epidural. Two women developed high blocks after epidural resiting, one of whom required intubation and ventilation. There was one high block in the intrathecal catheter group. The incidence of postdural puncture headache was 71% in the intrathecal catheter group compared with 81% in the non-intrathecal catheter group (P = 0.45). Epidural blood patch was performed on 50% of women managed with intrathecal catheters compared with 73% of those managed without (P = 0.08). Following ADP in labour an intrathecal catheter is a simple and effective alternative to resiting an epidural. Recognition of ADP is important as it allows appropriate management avoiding possible complications of administering epidural top-ups in the presence of a dural tear.