The quality of education, CPR guidelines and the chain of survival all contribute to patient outcome following cardiac arrest. Increasing concerns about patient safety have focused attention on the methods used to train and prepare doctors for clinical practice. Reductions in clinical exposure at both undergraduate and postgraduate level have been implicated in junior doctors inability to recognise and manage critically ill patients. Simulation is used as a central training tool in contemporary advanced life support teaching. Simulation provides a learning opportunity for controlled clinical practice without putting patients or others at risk. This review examines the history and rationale for simulation training in resuscitation and provides some background to the learning theories that underpin it. The role of task trainers, high and low fidelity patient simulators and computer assisted simulation as teaching tools are discussed.