We compared the time taken to perform cricothyroidotomy on a manikin to that on a medium fidelity simulator, to assess the effect of psychological stress and time pressure on performance. Seventy anaesthetists participated in this randomised cross-over study. Fifty-four (77%) anaesthetists took longer on the simulator, with the mean (SD) time taken to perform the procedure on the manikin and simulator 34 (18) and 48 (11) s, respectively (p < 0.001). Anaesthetists with more experience performed the procedure more quickly on both manikin and simulator. We conclude that psychological stress and time pressure in real-life scenarios can affect the performance of cricothyroidotomy.