Inadequate anaesthesia may lead to awareness. A properly trained anaesthetist, administering anaesthesia according to their knowledge of pharmacology and patient and surgical characteristics, assisted by clinical signs and monitoring, can minimize this risk. Relying upon volatile-based anaesthesia delivered at a concentration of at least 0.5 MAC may be effective, but this precludes the use of total intravenous anaesthesia techniques and in any case may lead to unwanted hypotension. Equipment failure may occur. Benzodiazepines do not protect the patient from awareness. The development of electroencephalographic monitors of anaesthetic depth provides an opportunity to prevent awareness. Two large scale studies, one of which was a randomized trial, have identified a 5-fold reduction in risk of awareness when depth of anaesthesia using bispectral index monitoring was used. The incidence of awareness can be further reduced with currently available techniques used more widely.