When anesthesia is induced with propofol in elective cases, endotracheal intubation conditions are not different between succinylcholine and rocuronium approximately 60 s after the injection of the neuromuscular relaxant. In the present study, we investigated whether, in emergent cases, endotracheal intubation conditions obtained at the actual moment of intubation under succinylcholine differ from those obtained 60 s after the injection of rocuronium. One-hundred-eighty adult patients requiring rapid sequence induction of anesthesia for emergent surgery received propofol (1.5 mg/kg) and either rocuronium (0.6 mg/kg; endotracheal intubation 60 s after injection) or succinylcholine (1 mg/kg; endotracheal intubation as soon as possible). The time from beginning of the induction until completion of the intubation was shorter after the administration of succinylcholine than after rocuronium (median time 95 s versus 130 s; P < 0.0001). Endotracheal intubation conditions, rated with a 9-point scale, were better after succinylcholine administration than after rocuronium (8.6 +/- 1.1 versus 8.0 +/- 1.5; P < 0.001). There was no significant difference in patients with poor intubation conditions (7 versus 12) or in patients with failed first intubation attempt (4 versus 5) between the groups. We conclude that during rapid sequence induction of anesthesia in emergent cases, succinylcholine allows for a more rapid endotracheal intubation sequence and creates superior intubation conditions compared with rocuronium.