A variety of methods are currently available for the management of the diabetic patient in the peri-operative period. A questionnaire about current clinical practice was sent to all anaesthetists in the Oxford region. The majority reported that minor surgery in both insulin treated and noninsulin treated diabetic patients warranted no intervention other than avoidance of meals and medication before surgery, and that, for major surgery, a glucose-insulin-potassium infusion should be used. Fifty one out of 71 respondents in the junior staff grades preferred this latter approach for intermediate surgical procedures in insulin treated patients compared with 27 out of 69 of the consultant staff. Most anaesthetists aimed for blood glucose levels of 7-13 mmol/litre in the peri-operative period. The literature is also reviewed.