We evaluated the ability of inexperienced personnel in using a prototype illuminated flexible catheter to assist tracheal intubation through the intubating laryngeal mask in anaesthetised, paralysed patients. The device consists of a completely flexible thin plastic catheter, a bulb attached to its distal end and a 15-mm concentric adapter at its proximal end. The illuminated catheter is placed into a straight silicone tracheal tube in such a way that the bulb is placed at the distal end of the tracheal tube. Six nurses inexperienced in tracheal intubation followed a 2-hr training program by using the device through the intubating laryngeal mask in a mannequin and then intubated 10 patients each, with instruction from an anaesthetist. All patients (n = 60) were ASA 1–2, scheduled to undergo general anaesthesia for elective surgery. After fentanyl/propofol induction the intubating laryngeal mask was inserted. When an adequate airway was established, patients received atracurium and the endotracheal tube preloaded with the device was inserted through the intubating laryngeal mask and by observing the glow in the neck was advanced into the trachea. The final outcome and the duration of the procedure were recorded. The intubating laryngeal mask was inserted successfully in all patients. The success rate of intubation was 57/60 (95%); 38 patients at first attempt and 19 after two or three attempts. The mean (±SD) duration of the procedure in the first five patients in the series of each nurse was 74±40 s while in the last five patients it was diminished to 52±23 s (P= 0.01). We conclude that the described methodology has the potential for more widespread use of tracheal intubation through the intubating laryngeal mask even by inexperienced personnel.