Human beings who work in complex, dynamic, and stressful situations make mistakes. This is as true for anaesthetists as for any other health-care professional, but we face unique challenges in the many roles and responsibilities we have in diverse clinical contexts. As a profession, we are well versed in the development and utilization of improvement techniques and technologies that prioritize high-quality, safe care for patients. This article focuses on one particular domain of patient safety in which anaesthetists have been pre-eminent, the use of simulation in training to improve both professional capabilities and patient safety in anaesthetic practice. This review considers the impact of error in health care; the role of anaesthetists in promoting simulation-based education for the development of clinical skills and improved teamwork; and their role in disseminating human factors and quality improvement science to enhance safety in the clinical workplace. Finally, we consider our position at the vanguard of developments in patient safety and how the profession should continue to pursue a leadership role in the application of simulation-based interventions to training and systems design across health care.