This paper describes the design and initial testing of the ACCESS (Anaesthetic Computer Controlled Emergency Situation Simulator) system, which has been designed to simulate anaesthetic emergencies with the aim of providing training for junior doctors. The simulations require little or no capital expenditure with minimal use of time by staff or trainees. They are based on standard anaesthetic equipment, with a microcomputer providing an image of commonly used instruments. Problems are presented as scenarios administered by the teacher, and test the skills of the pupil. During 64 scenarios, five trainees caused two 'deaths' and solved the problems in a median time of 2.5 min, while an experienced group of anaesthetists caused one 'death' and took 1.8 min. The simulation was rated by the pupils as easy to use, realistic and a valuable educational tool.