Propofol (2,6-di-isopropylphenol) 1.5-2.0 mg/kg i.v. was compared with thiopentone 3.0-4.0 mg/kg i.v. as an induction agent in anaesthesia for computerised tomography (CT) of the brain in children. Both induction agents were combined with diazepam 0.2 mg/kg i.v. Thirty children (ASA physical status I-II) aged 3 to 10 years and scheduled for elective examination were included in the randomized study. The haemodynamic response to propofol and thiopentone did not differ between the groups. Spontaneous respiration was retained in all patients and no ventilatory support was required during anaesthesia. The incidence of side-effects did not differ between the groups. Pain on injection with propofol was rare (n = 1) after mixing 1 ml lignocaine (1%) with propofol prior to induction. The recovery times were significantly shorter in the propofol than in the thiopentone group. Propofol appears to be a promising alternative for use in short day-case anaesthesia for CT scanning in children.