The Airtraq (R) Laryngoscope is a novel intubation device which allows visualisation of the vocal cords without alignment of the oral, pharyngeal and tracheal axes. We compared the Airtraq (R) with the Macintosh laryngoscope in simulated easy and difficult laryngoscopy. Twenty-five anaesthetists were allowed up to three attempts to intubate the trachea in each of three laryngoscopy scenarios using a Laerdal (R) Intubation Trainer followed by five scenarios using a Laerdal SimMan (R) Manikin. Each anaesthetist then performed tracheal intubation of the normal airway a second time to characterise the learning curve. In the simulated easy laryngoscopy scenarios, there was no difference between the Airtraq (R) and the Macintosh in success of tracheal intubation. The time taken to intubate at the end of the protocol was significantly lower using the Airtraq (R) (9.5 (6.7) vs. 14.2 (7.4) s), demonstrating a rapid acquisition of skills. In the simulated difficult laryngoscopy scenarios, the Airtraq (R) was more successful in achieving tracheal intubation, required less time to intubate successfully, caused less dental trauma, and was considered by the anaesthetists to be easier to use.