A randomised single-blind trial was performed to compare the effects on cardiac rhythm of isoflurane and halothane in 100 dental outpatients having extractions under general anaesthesia in the dental chair without tracheal intubation. The incidence of supraventricular dysrhythmias did not differ significantly. No patient in the isoflurane group developed a ventricular dysrhythmia, whilst nine of those who received halothane did so (p = 0.0013). The quality of anaesthesia was acceptable in the isoflurane group, but induction time was longer (p less than 0.05) and the maximum heart rate was faster (p less than 0.01). There was no difference in the maximum end tidal carbon dioxide concentrations measured in a further 20 cases.