BACKGROUND: The air-Q Intubating Laryngeal Airway (ILA) (Cookgas LLC, Mercury Medical, Clearwater, FL) is a supraglottic airway device available in pediatric sizes, with design features to facilitate passage of cuffed tracheal tubes when used to guide tracheal intubation. We designed this prospective observational study of the ILA to assess the ease of its placement in paralyzed pediatric patients, determine its position and alignment to the larynx using a fiberoptic bronchoscope, gauge its efficacy as a conduit for fiberoptic intubation with cuffed tracheal tubes, and evaluate the ability to remove the ILA without dislodgement of the tracheal tube after successful tracheal intubation. METHODS: One hundred healthy children, aged 6 months to 8 years, ASA physical status I to II, and scheduled for elective surgery requiring general endotracheal anesthesia were enrolled in this prospective study. Based on the manufacturer's guidelines, each patient received either a size 1.5 or 2.0 ILA according to their weight. The number of attempts for successful insertion, leak pressures, fiberoptic grade of view, number of attempts and time for tracheal intubation, time for ILA removal, and complications were recorded. RESULTS: ILA placement, fiberoptic tracheal intubation, and ILA removal were successful in all patients. The size 1.5 ILA cohort had significantly higher rates of epiglottic downfolding compared with the size 2.0 ILA cohort (P < 0.001), despite adequate ventilation variables. When comparing fiberoptic grade of view to weight, a moderate negative correlation was found (r = -0.41, P < 0.001), indicating that larger patients tended to have better fiberoptic grades of view. The size 1.5 ILA cohort had a significantly longer time to intubation (P = 0.04) compared with the size 2.0 ILA cohort. However, this difference may not be clinically significant because there was a large overlap of confidence bounds in the average times of the size 1.5 ILA (27.0 +/- 13.0 seconds) and size 2.0 ILA cohorts (22.7 +/- 6.9 seconds). When comparing weight to time to tracheal intubation, a weak correlation that was not statistically significant was found (r = -0.17, P = 0.09), showing that time to intubation did not differ significantly according to weight, despite higher fiberoptic grades in smaller patients. CONCLUSIONS: The ILA was easy to place and provided an effective conduit for tracheal intubation with cuffed tracheal tubes in children with normal airways. Additionally, removal of the ILA after successful intubation could be achieved quickly and without dislodgement of the tracheal tube. Because of the higher incidence of epiglottic downfolding in smaller patients, the use of fiberoptic bronchoscopy is recommended to assist with tracheal intubation through this device.