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Improving perioperative efficiency and throughput has become increasingly important in facilitating the fast-track recovery process following ambulatory surgery. This review focuses on the important role played by the anesthesiologist as a perioperative physician in fast-track ambulatory surgery.A literature review of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications was used to develop evidence-based recommendations for optimizing recovery following ambulatory anesthesia. The choice of anesthetic technique should be tailored to the needs of the patient as well as the type of surgical procedure being performed in the ambulatory setting. The anesthetic decisions made by the anesthesiologist, as a key perioperative physician, are of critical importance in developing a successful fast-track ambulatory surgery program.The pivotal role played by the anesthesiologist as the key perioperative physician in facilitating the recovery process has assumed increased importance in the current outpatient fast-track recovery environment. The choice of premedication, anesthetic, analgesic and antiemetic drugs, as well as cardiovascular, hormonal and fluid therapies, can all influence the ability to fast-track outpatients after ambulatory surgery.