This meta-analysis was undertaken to compare the effects of succinylcholine (SCH) and rocuronium (RCR) on endotracheal intubation (ETI) conditions. Eligible randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were identified via MEDLINE and a manual search of references. The frequencies of excellent and unacceptable ETI conditions in subjects receiving SCH 1.0-1.5 mg/kg and RCR 0.6-1.2 mg/kg were determined using standard statistical methods. Inclusion criteria were met by 16 RCTs, representing 1362 subjects. SCH was associated with a 17.7% increase (95% CI = 13-22) in the frequency of excellent ETI conditions and a 5.1% decrease (95% CI = -7.3 to -2.9) in the frequency of unacceptable ETI conditions, when compared with RCR. In the subgroup undergoing true rapid sequence intubation, SCH was associated with a 19.1% increase (95% CI = 13.7-24.5) in the frequency of excellent ETI conditions. SCH appears to be superior to RCR in creating excellent ETI conditions and avoiding unacceptable ETI conditions.