Background: Leucocytes are a pivotal component of the inflammatory cascade that results in tissue injury in a large group of disorders. Free radical production and endothelial activation promote leucocyte–endothelium interactions via endothelial expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) which augment these processes, particularly in the setting of reperfusion injury. Propofol has antioxidant properties which may attenuate the increased expression of these molecules that is observed. Methods: Cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells were exposed to 20 h of hypoxia, then returned to normoxic conditions. Cells were treated with saline, Diprivan® 5 μg mL−1 or propofol 5 μg mL−1, for 4 h after reoxygenation and were examined for ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression. Results: Hypoxia did not increase the expression of ICAM-1/VCAM-1. ICAM-1 expression peaked 12 h after reoxygenation (21.75(0.6) vs. 9.6(1.3), P = 0.02). Propofol, but not Diprivan®, prevented this increase (8.2(2.9) vs. 21.75(0.6), P = 0.009). VCAM-1 expression peaked 24 h after reoxygenation (9.8(0.9) vs. 6.6(0.6), P = 0.03). Propofol and Diprivan® prevented this increase, with no difference between the two treatments observed (4.3(0.3) and 6.4(0.5) vs. 9.8(0.9), P = 0.001, 0.02, respectively). Conclusion: These effects are likely to be attributable to the antioxidant properties of propofol, and suggest that propofol may have a protective role in disorders where free radical mediated injury promotes leucocyte–endothelium adhesive interactions.