Following publication of the Poswillo report, the continued use of general anaesthesia in dentistry became the subject of a major debate. In particular, the provision of general anaesthetic services by general dental practitioners in order to carry out simple extractions for child patients has been called into question. Other authors have strongly supported the continued need for general anaesthesia and insist that for some patients it remains the technique of choice. There is, however, little evidence of current patterns of attendance from which argument may be advanced to support or refute the differing views. In this study data was drawn from three London dental teaching hospitals providing out-patient general anaesthesia for extractions. During the 12-month period investigated 7852 general anaesthetics had been administered for child patients. There was evidence of an increase in numbers at one centre when results were compared to those of a previous study and some evidence of a change in pattern of referral with time at the same centre, with an increase in the numbers of patients referred by general dental practitioners. Eighty-three per cent of the anaesthetics had been given for the extraction of carious primary teeth, with an average of 3.3 being extracted per child. Nearly one-third of the anaesthetics were for children under the age of 5 years.