Two groups of adult patients (55 each) were visited pre-operatively by an anaesthetist who was dressed either formally or casually. Their response to this visit, their opinions regarding anaesthetists and their knowledge of anaesthetic work were elicited afterwards by means of a questionnaire. Patients' satisfaction with the anaesthetist and his/her visit was not influenced by dress. The anaesthetist was awarded a high level of prestige and the length of his/her training was recognised to be comparable to that of other professionals; 81.8% of patients thought that anaesthetists held a medical degree but only 35.4% thought that they worked in the intensive care unit. Patients expressed a preference for doctors to wear name tags, white coats and short hair but disapproved of clogs, jeans, trainers and earrings.