The poor performance of doctors in cardiopulmonary resuscitation has been described in several studies. The problem has been addressed in the last few years by simplifying treatment algorithms, establishing standards of competence, and creating a training framework. Resuscitation skills are also assessed during formal examinations such as those for the membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP(UK)). In 1994 and 1996, we assessed the resuscitation skills of the candidates at our centre during the short-case section of the MRCP examination. With the correct preparation, there was no difficulty in carrying out detailed assessment of basic life support, defibrillation and advanced life support. This assessment was carried out separately from that of the examiners and did not interfere with the running of the short cases. The resuscitation skills of this small sample of an important group of doctors in training grades were unsatisfactory, and we suggest that more should be done to raise standards.