In safeguarding the patient, the nurse supports and thereby advocates the patient's interests in teh restoration of the patient's health and well-being. This article explores the concept of advocacy, discusses some of its complex issues and highlights its implications for nursing practice with some reference to the theatre setting. An advocate is one who pleads the cause of another. According to Tschudin, advocacy is a fundamental aspect of an ethic of caring in that with courage born of compassion one is able to respond in a caring way to the needs and rights of another. An advocate must take positive steps to restore another person's autonomy when it is threatened or diminished, otherwise all talk of advocacy is simply lip-service. In theatre nursing the scope for acting as the patient's advocate is a reality because most surgery necessitates the use of general anaesthesia resulting in the patients' loss of consciousness and they are therefore unable to maintain their own interests. The anaesthetised patient who has entrusted his life into the hands of the theatre team relies on this duty of care to maintain his dignity and safety. As Bandman and Bandman purport, the nurse recognises that his or her first duty is to protect and care for the patient's health and safety.