A child with cerebral palsy and carnitine deficiency developed ventricular arrhythmias with loss of cardiac output during elective surgery under general anaesthesia with concomitant epidural analgesia. Sinus rhythm was restored on administration of adrenaline, but hypotension persisted despite resuscitation. Bolus administration of 0.8 ml.kg−1 (20 ml) lipid emulsion resulted in rapid improvement in cardiac output. Blood samples taken before and after the lipid bolus did not demonstrate toxic concentrations of bupivacaine. This case suggests that carnitine deficiency may increase susceptibility to bupivacaine cardiotoxicity.