In a randomised cross-over study, 48 anaesthetists attempted to place a Frova single-use introducer, an Eschmann multiple-use introducer and a Portex single-use introducer in the trachea of a manikin set up to simulate a grade 3 laryngoscopic view. The anaesthetists were blinded to success (tracheal placement) or failure (oesophageal placement). Successful placement (proportion, 95% confidence interval) of either the Frova introducer (65%, 50–77%) or the Eschmann introducer (60%, 46–73%) was significantly more likely than with the Portex introducer (8%, 3–20%). There were no significant differences between the success rates for the Frova and the Eschmann introducers. A separate experiment revealed that the peak force exerted by the Frova and Portex introducers was two to three times greater than that which could be exerted by the Eschmann introducer, p < 0.0001, indicating that the single-use introducers are more likely to cause tissue trauma during placement.