We assessed the basic and advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills of 30 trainee anaesthetists in a simulated exercise. Only one person performed basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation as outlined in the 1992 European Resuscitation Council guidelines. The management of ventricular fibrillation and asystole were correctly carried out by eight (27%) and nine (30%) anaesthetists, respectively. Neither the seniority of the anaesthetists nor their postgraduate qualifications correlated with their performance level. We conclude that all trainee anaesthetists need to undergo regular training and assessment of their resuscitation skills.