BACKGROUND The Bullard laryngoscope can be useful in management of difficult airway. When the endotracheal tube is advanced over the original Bullard laryngoscope stylet, the endotracheal tube sometimes makes contact with structures around the vocal cords, especially the right arytenoids. A similar problem also occurs with flexible fibreoptic intubation and it has been shown that use of the Parker Flex-Tip tube usually resolves the problem. In this study we tested our hypothesis that use of the Parker Flex-Tip tube might improve endotracheal tube passage with the Bullard laryngoscope. METHODS Forty patients scheduled for elective anaesthesia were randomly assigned into group ST (standard tube) or Group PT (Parker Flex-Tip tube). The time taken to achieve successful endotracheal tube placement after obtaining the best laryngeal view, the number of attempts at intubation and the incidences of successful intubation at first attempt and of re-direction of the Bullard laryngoscope during intubation were recorded. Unpaired t-test and chi2-test were employed and P < 0.05 was considered significant. RESULTS Use of the Parker Flex-Tip tube reduced the time required for successful endotracheal tube placement after the best laryngeal view was obtained from 14 +/- 6 to 6 +/- 2 s (P < 0.01). It also reduced the incidence of requirement for re-direction of the Bullard laryngoscope during intubation from 10/19 to 1/19 (P < 0.01). The incidence of successful intubation at the first attempt (18/19 vs. 15/19) was higher in the PT group but the difference was not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS During intubation with the Bullard laryngoscope, use of the Parker Flex-Tip tube is associated with more rapid success and a lower incidence of re-direction of the Bullard laryngoscope during endotracheal intubation when compared to a standard endotracheal tube.