OBJECTIVE: There is little information on adverse anaesthetic outcomes from the Caribbean. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of anaesthetic morbidity and mortality at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and to identify possible risk factors. METHODS: All anaesthetic procedures at the UHWI were monitored for adverse events and patient outcomes for the 12-month period from March 2004 to February 2005. Possible risk factors for these adverse events were assessed using logistic regression. RESULTS: Of 3185 anaesthetic procedures, the incidence of intra-operative events was 201 per 1000 (95% CI 187, 215); 151 per 1000 being cardiovascular and 26 per 1000 respiratory. Others included excess blood loss and equipment failure, hyperglycaemia, nausea and vomiting. Patients with intraoperative complications were three times more likely to have complications during recovery (OR = 3.35; 95% CI 2.59, 4.33, p < 0.001). The incidence of complications among paediatric patients was 139 per 1000 (95% CI 104, 174) intra-operatively and 58 per 1000 (95% CI 34, 81) during recovery. Risk factors for developing complications (p < 0.05) included age > 50 years, ASA status > or = II, prolonged anaesthesia, high surgical risk, general or combined anaesthetic techniques, senior anaesthetist, intubated patients and co-morbidities. There were 14 operative mortalities, none of which was anaesthesia-related CONCLUSION: Anaesthetic complication rates at the UHWI are comparable to those in developed countries, except for higher paediatric complication rates and ICU admissions and lower rates of postoperative nausea and vomiting.