Pre-operative anxiety is an unpleasant state of psychological distress that occurs in up to 87% of patients awaiting neurosurgical procedures. Sedative medication is undesirable in this population due to the need for early postoperative neurological assessment. Acupuncture has previously been shown to reduce pre-operative anxiety, but studies involving neurosurgical patients are lacking. This single-centre, prospective, randomised controlled trial was designed to determine the effect of acupuncture at the EX-HN3 (Yintang point) on pre-operative anxiety levels in neurosurgical patients. The study was prospectively registered before participant recruitment. After measuring baseline anxiety levels, 128 patients were randomly allocated in a 1:1 ratio by a web-based computer program to receive either acupuncture at the EX-HN3 (Yintang) point (acupuncture group) or no intervention (control group). Participants were not blinded, but all analyses were performed by a member of the research team who was unaware of the group allocation. The primary outcome measure was anxiety level after 30 min, as measured by the six-item short form of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (possible score range 20-80). Sixty-two patients in each group were subsequently analysed. Median (IQR [range]) anxiety State-Trait Anxiety Inventory score reduced significantly in the acupuncture group (46.7 (36.7-53.3 [23.3-70.0]) to 40.0 (30.0-46.7) [20.0-53.3]), p < 0.001), with no change seen in the control group (41.7 (33.3-53.3 [20.0-76.7]) to 43.3 (36.7-50.0 [20.0-76.7]), p = 0.829). There were no adverse events in either group. Acupuncture at the EX-HN3 point reduces pre-operative anxiety levels in patients awaiting neurosurgery.