Background Public place defibrillators can reduce delays to defibrillation but their cost-effectiveness has not been evaluated in randomised trials. In Scotland, unlike England, no health sector funding has been provided. Nonetheless, anecdotal evidence suggests they are increasing in number. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted of all airports, shopping malls, leisure centres, and major train and bus stations to determine whether defibrillators had been purchased and by whom, the training and maintenance arrangements, and whether they had been discharged. Results Of the 183 eligible sites, 153 (84%) participated. 33 (22%) had at least one defibrillator. Those in airports and shopping malls were purchased privately. Those in leisure centres were bought by charities or local authorities. The majority (97%) provided training to existing staff, but 6 (18%) provided no training to new staff. Only 6 (18%) had a maintenance agreement and 8 (24%) a replacement policy. Only one site permitted public access. Defibrillators had been discharged in 10 (30%) sites. Of the 32 people shocked, 23 (72%) survived until the ambulance arrived. Conclusions Despite absence of health sector funding, defibrillators are located in 22% of high footfall public places. Those purchasing defibrillators need to ensure adequate maintenance, replacement and training arrangements.