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The GlideScope® Video Laryngoscope is a new intubating device. It was designed to provide a view of the glottis without alignment of the oral, pharyngeal and tracheal axes. The aim of the study was to describe the use of the GlideScope® in comparison with direct laryngoscopy for elective surgical patients requiring tracheal intubation.Two hundred patients were randomly assigned to intubation by direct laryngoscopy using a Macintosh size 3 blade (DL, n=100) or intubation using the GlideScope® (GS, n=100). Prior to intubation all patients were given a Cormack and Lehane (C&L) grade by a separate anaesthetist using a Macintosh size 3 blade. The patient was then intubated, using direct laryngoscopy or the GlideScope®, by a different anaesthetist during which the larynx was inspected and given a laryngoscopy score. Time to intubate was measured.In the GS group, laryngoscopy grade was improved in the majority (28/41) of patients with C&L grade >1 and in all but one of patients who were grade 3 laryngoscopy (P<0.001). The overall mean time to intubate was 30 (95% CI 28–33) s in the DL group and 46 (95% CI 43–49) s in the GS group. The time to intubate for C&L grade 3 was similar in both groups, being 47 s for the DL group and 50 s for the GS group respectively.In most patients, the GlideScope® provided a laryngoscopic view equal to or better than that of direct laryngoscopy, but it took an additional 16 s (average) for tracheal intubation. It has potential advantages over standard direct laryngoscopy for difficult intubations.