Efficient use of hospital resources is essential if waiting lists are to be reduced. We undertook this study because there seems to be little information on the use of theatre time for dentoalveolar surgery under general anaesthesia. The time taken for each sequence of events (from start of case, induction, operation to recovery, and so on) for each patient was recorded. Of the 30 lists examined, 22 lists (73%) finished on time or early, and 8 lists (27%) ran late. The time spent operating occupied less than 50% of theatre time available. The 'total time' for each case was increased (by about 10 minutes a patient) when a junior anaesthetist was anaesthetizing rather than a consultant. The overall time used per list was 79% with the remaining 21% of the list being 'unused'. Where these lists did over-run, then this was usually because the operation took longer, although grade of anaesthetist was a factor. We identified several areas in which efficiency could be improved.