Large-volume low-pressure cuffs have been introduced in an endeavour to reduce the incidence of tracheal mucosal damage. These cuffs when inflated to clinical seal develop folds, which together with low clinical seal pressure may not protect against aspiration. This study compares the incidence of aspiration of dye past a variety of large-volume cuffed tubes and red rubber low-volume cuffs inflated to clinical seal in a group of 30 patients. The incidence of dye tracking past the large-volume cuffs studies was 100 per cent whereas no aspiration of dye was seen past the red rubber tubes. Increasing cuff pressure in the large-volume cuffs beyond clinical seal to 50 cm H2O did not obliterate the dye-filled cuff folds, despite wide variation in the thickness of the cuff material.