Preoperative airway evaluation is essential to consider which is the best method of maintaining and protecting the airway during surgery and whether problems with airway management are likely. In general surgical patients, the prevalence of difficult intubation is low and tests have poor predictive power. This means that the patient may be evaluated as normal but prove to be difficult. The absence of reliable prediction in general surgical patients means that airway strategy holds the key to successful management. Where there are obvious abnormalities in the history, examination or imaging the preoperative evaluation will allow choice of the most appropriate airway strategy which may include preparation of the patient, assembling of alternative airway equipment, advice and help from a more senior or skilled anaesthetist or aid from a surgical colleague or assistant.