The aim of this study was to evaluate whether esmolol has an effect on QT interval during induction of anaesthesia using etomidate and fentanyl in patients with known coronary artery disease. Sixty patients were prospectively randomised to either a control group or the esmolol group. Esmolol was administered as a bolus 1 mg.kg(-1), followed by a continuous infusion at 250 mu g.kg(-1)min(-1). All patients received etomidate 0.3 mg.kg(-1) and fentanyl 15 mu g.kg(-1). The ECG was recorded prior to induction of anaesthesia (T0), 5 min following the start of drug infusions (T1), 1 min following etomidate (T2), 3 min following vecuronium (T3), 30 s (T4), 2 min (T5) and 4 min (T6) after intubation. In the esmolol group, QTc interval was significantly shorter at T1, T2 and T4 compared to the control group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, QTc interval increased following tracheal intubation during induction of anaesthesia using etomidate and fentanyl. An infusion of Esmolol attenuated the QTc interval prolongation associated with tracheal intubation.