Gastric fluid pH was measured following induction of anesthesia and placement of an endotracheal tube in 30 surgical patients undergoing elective operations. None of the patients received an anticholinergic drug before surgery. Fifteen patients who had been given 15 ml of sodium citrate 15 to 20 minutes before induction of anesthesia had a mean pH of 6.2 +/- 0.8. The control group, which also consisted of 15 patients, had a mean pH of 2.1 +/- 1.4. The increase in gastric pH noted following sodium citrate would result in reduced pulmonary reaction should aspiration occur.