Monitoring the central peripheral temperature gradient in critically ill surgical patients is a simple, sensitive, noninvasive and inexpensive method that can accurately reflect the state of peripheral circulation. It serves as an early warning sign, and its return to normal is a good measure of the efficacy o f therapy. Recognition of the cause of an abnormal gradient is essential to successful management since it can result from pain as well as hypovolemia. Warm-up patterns vary, and every patient should be treated individually. Forcing vasodilatation is usually unnecessary and amy be dangerous in hypothermic patients and in patients with hypovolemia if blood volume is not corrected simultaneously. Peripheral vascular disease, central hypothermia and the use of vasoactive drugs limit the usefulness of this method.