The incidence of skin contamination of anaesthetic and related staff by patient's blood and saliva was studied during 270 anaesthetics in Cardiff hospitals over seven continuous days in October 1989. A survey was also made of current Hepatitis B immunisation status and glove-wearing habits of 75 anaesthetists. Blood from 35 (14%) patients caused skin contamination of 65 staff during 46 incidents. Twenty-eight (61%) of the contamination incidents occurred during vessel cannulation. Five (8%) of the 65 staff contaminated by blood already had cuts on their hands. There were nine incidents (4%) of skin contamination by saliva. Fifty-three (71%) anaesthetists were immunised against Hepatitis B. Only seven (9%) anaesthetists wear gloves for oral or nasal intubation, six (8%) for insertion of peripheral venous cannulae, 47 (63%) for insertion of arterial lines and 67 (89%) for insertion of central lines. All anaesthetic and associated staff should wear gloves on a routine basis.