There have been few published data describing the demand for and amount of Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training received by trainees in acute surgical specialties. We undertook a survey on aspects of ATLS training, questioning all senior house officers in accident and emergency (A & E) medicine, general surgery and orthopaedic surgery in the west of Scotland in January 1995. More general surgical trainees were ATLS trained than orthopaedic or A & E trainees. Ninety-seven per cent of respondents felt ATLS was essential training for FRCS. There were few problems gaining study leave for the courses, but concern was expressed regarding the long waiting lists. ATLS training is therefore thought to be essential for surgical trainees, and the number of ATLS courses needs to be increased to cope with the demand.