Laser masks are used to prevent inhalation of viral particles during laser surgery. A crossover trial was performed in eight volunteers to compare the ability of a surgical mask and a laser mask with that of an FFP2 respirator to filter airborne dust particles. The surgical and laser masks were tested when worn normally and when they were taped to the face. The mean reductions in particle counts were 3.0 fold [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.8-4.2] for the untaped surgical mask, 3.8 fold (95% CI 2.9-4.6) for the untaped laser mask, 7.5 fold (95% CI 6.5-8.5) for the taped surgical mask, 15.6 fold (95% CI 13.5-17.8) for the taped laser mask, and 102.6 fold (95% CI 41.2-164.1) for the FFP2 half-face respirator. The laser mask provided significantly less protection than the FFP2 respirator (P=0.02), and only marginally more protection than the surgical mask. The continued use of laser masks for respiratory protection is questionable. Taping masks to the face only provided a small improvement in protection.