Pre-oxygenation in the seated (sitting) position has been associated with better oxygenation. This randomised, cross over study compared oxygenation in the supine position with that in the 45° seated position in 40 young, healthy volunteers. Oxygen was administered through a circle system and tight fitting facemask. Transcutaneous Po(2) levels were recorded at 10-s intervals from two measurement points during 4 min of oxygenation in the two positions. The mean (SD) values of 12 measurements taken between the third and fourth minute were recorded. There was no difference in the increase in tissue oxygenation when comparing the supine and seated positions (32.7 (7.3) vs 32.6 (6.7) kPa, respectively). We conclude that there is no evidence that pre-oxygenation in the 45° seated position improves tissue oxygenation in young healthy volunteers compared with the supine position.