Two cases of critically ill patients who received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) using different forms of circuitry and for different indications are presented. Both patients had life-threatening infections with septic shock and were not able to be supported by conventional means. The first patient had staphylococcal septicaemia and received venoarterial ECMO for circulatory failure. The second patient had psittacosis and received venovenous ECMO for respiratory failure. We discuss the expanding indications for this technology and the role it has to play in adult intensive care.