This is a report of a postal questionnaire survey of 1250 general dental practitioners regarding occurrence of medical emergencies and their choice of emergency drugs and equipment. The response rate was 65 per cent and the results showed that about one in seven practitioners had had to resuscitate a patient. The most common medical emergencies were adverse reactions to local anaesthetics, grand mal seizures, angina pectoris and hypoglycaemia (insulin shock). Nearly all respondents (96 per cent) believed that dentists need to be competent in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, just over a half (55 per cent) felt they were competent in CPR on graduation and a similar figure (57 per cent) felt they could perform effective single person CPR for five minutes. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) had undertaken CPR courses since graduation. Additionally, the most commonly kept emergency drugs were oxygen (63 per cent) and adrenaline (22 per cent), while the most commonly kept emergency equipment was a manual resuscitator (recoil bag-valve-mask type) which was kept by 27 per cent of the practitioners.