In the present study final-year medical students' degree of theoretical knowledge and rate of successful performance of emergency procedures was assessed. A questionnaire was sent to all final-year medical students in Finland in 1997 (n=504) in all five medical faculties. The response rate was 80.2% (n=404). The questionnaire included questions on theoretical knowledge and successful performance of 10 emergency procedures. Over 90% of the final-year medical students knew the theory of emergency procedures, with the exceptions of chest tube insertion (84%), pericardiocentesis (47%), and planning and starting fluid infusion for an infant (83%), and over 90% had successfully performed insertion of an intravenous line (100%) and intubation of an adult (90%). However, fewer than 7% of the students had successfully performed chest tube insertion, planned fluid infusion for an infant, or pericardiocentesis. Males had significantly higher odds ratio than females for performing insertion of the intravenous line and intubation of an infant. Students with working experience had higher odds ratios for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The highest overall frequency of the procedure performance was at the university in which a student logbook was systematically used. Conclusions are that final-year medical students have good theoretical knowledge of emergency procedures, but practical teaching should be encouraged, since even in emergency procedures students' experience of practical measures was low.