Patients in Canada and Scotland were asked to complete a pre-operative questionnaire examining their desire for information relating to anaesthesia. In both Canada and Scotland, patients under the age of 50 years had a greater wish to receive information than those who were older (p less than 0.0001). In Canada, female patients were found to be more keen to receive pre-operative information than males of the same age group (p less than 0.05). The priority given to individual pieces of information was remarkably similar in both countries. Details of dangerous complications of anaesthesia and surgery were consistently rated of low priority, with high priority going to postoperative landmarks such as eating and drinking. Both countries rated meeting the anaesthetist before surgery as the highest priority of all.