The performance of the i-STAT portable clinical analyser for measuring blood gases and pH was evaluated with reference to a conventional blood gas analyser (ABL520 Radiometer). Ninety-two samples from the routine blood gas analysis laboratory were chosen according to a wide distribution of partial pressure of carbon dioxide (Pa,CO2), partial pressure oxygen (Pa,O2) and pH and then analysed. All measurements were performed in duplicate by trained technicians from the central hospital laboratory. Differences between duplicate measurements were computed for Pa,CO2: (1.2 versus 0.4%), Pa,O2 (1.7 versus 1.1%) and pH (0.06 versus 0.02%), for the i-STAT and ABL520, respectively. pH and Pa,CO2 values measured with the i-STAT were very close to those obtained with the ABL520, the difference (mean+/-SD) being 0.006+/-0.018 and -0.13+/-0.17 kPa, respectively. Statistical analysis showed that the differences between analysers did not depend on values of pH or Pa,CO2. The performance of the analysers depended on the level of PO2. Below 15 kPa (n=48), the two systems gave nearly identical values, the mean difference was 0.01+/-0.37 kPa. Between 16 and 55 kPa (n=44), there was a systematic but small (-0.69+/-0.67 kPa) underestimation of Pa,O2 measured with the i-STAT (p<10(-8)). In conclusion, this study shows that blood gas analysis using the i-STAT portable device is comparable with that performed by a conventional laboratory blood gas analyser.