There are few published accounts of anaesthesia delivery at high altitude. Natives at high altitude are known to have altered cardiorespiratory reserve. This study seeks to demonstrate the safety of propofol-fentanyl anaesthesia at high altitude titrated to the bispectral index (BIS) (3505 metres above sea level) in native highlanders. It also shows the differential effects of anaesthesia and surgery on the haemodynamics of such individuals as compared with individuals living at low altitude. Fifteen consenting adults scheduled to undergo general surgical/orthopaedic procedures under general anaesthesia using fentanyl, and propofol infusions titrated to the BIS along with nitrous oxide in oxygen after intubation, were recruited in the high-altitude arm. Their anaesthesia record was compared with retrospective data from low altitude with respect to anaesthetic requirements, recovery after anaesthesia and the haemodynamic responses to surgical stress. The high-altitude dwellers required significantly larger doses of propofol at anaesthetic induction (2.31+/-0.64 vs. 1.41+/-0.24 mg/kg, P<0.0001) and thereafter to maintain designated BIS than their low-altitude counterparts (6.22+/-1.14 vs. 4.61+/-1.29 mg/kg/h, P<0.01). They, however, had uneventful and short recovery times. The high-altitude population also had significantly lower baseline heart rates (72+/-9.83 vs. 88+/-12.1, P<0.04) as also the heart rate responses to noxious stimulation such as direct laryngoscopy or skin incision (P<0.04, P<0.005, respectively). High-altitude dwellers require significantly larger amounts of intravenous anaesthetic propofol. Heart rate at rest as also the heart rate responses to surgical stress were significantly attenuated at high altitude.