Of all the inert gases, only xenon has considerable anaesthetic properties under normobaric conditions. Its very low blood/gas partition coefficient makes induction of and emergence from anaesthesia more rapid compared with other inhalational anaesthetics. In experimental and clinical studies the safety and efficiency of xenon as an anaesthetic has been demonstrated. Xenon causes several physiological changes, which mediate protection of the brain or myocardium. The use of xenon might therefore be beneficial in certain clinical situations, as in patients at high risk for neurological or cardiac damage.