On occasions within the case reports of the various medico-legal defence organizations mention is made of burns to the oral soft tissues arising from contact with a heated instrument. Good cross infection control dictates that the dentist should be gloved whilst treating patients. No study has to date examined the thermal insulating effect of wearing dental procedure gloves although double gloving is known to blunt temperature perception. It was the purpose of this work to compare the degree of thermal insulation afforded by five makes of gloves (Biogel-D, Featherlite, Health-line, Microtouch and Tru-Touch). Measurement of temperature rises at 15, 30 and 60s were made when a copper cylinder, at ambient room temperature, containing an iron/constantan thermocouple was placed upon a 2-35 kg aluminium block maintained at 50°C by a thermostatically controlled electrical heating element. This measurement was initially performed, on 10 separate occasions, with the aluminium block and copper cylinder in direct contact (Control). This arrangement was then modified to investigate the effects of the various gloves by placing a circular mat of each glove material, harvested from the palm of each glove, between the block and cylinder. For each glove, 10 sets of observations were made using a different circular mat of glove material whose thickness had been previously determined. An analysis of variance identified highly significant (P < 0.001) differences between the temperature rise of the control and experimental groups. The degree of thermal insulation afforded by each glove type appeared related to the glove thickness. This was confirmed by regression analysis but, although correlation coefficients of at least 0.91 were recorded, no single relationship best related these two quantities. Glove thermal insulating properties should be considered when selecting gloves for use in the surgery.