The utility of two-choice visual reaction time testing using a specially programmed mobile telephone as a measure of sedation level was investigated in 20 healthy patients sedated with target controlled infusions of propofol. At gradually increasing target concentrations visual reaction time was compared with patient-assessed visual analogue scale sedation scores and an observer-rated scale. Propofol sedation caused dose-dependent increases in visual reaction time and visual analogue scale scores that were statistically significant when the calculated effect-site concentration reached 0.9 μg.ml−1 (p < 0.05) and 0.5 μg.ml−1 (p < 0.01) respectively. While visual analogue scale scores were more sensitive at lower levels of sedation than visual reaction time, the latter demonstrated marked increase in values at higher levels of sedation. Visual reaction time may be useful for identifying impending over-sedation.