BACKGROUND: Perioperative hypothermia can develop easily during shoulder arthroscopy, because cold irrigation can directly influence core body temperature. The authors investigated whether active warming and humidification of inspired gases reduces falls in core body temperature and allows redistribution of body heat in patients undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery under general anesthesia. METHODS: Patients scheduled for arthroscopic shoulder surgery were randomly assigned to receive either room temperature inspired gases using a conventional respiratory circuit (the control group, n = 20) or inspired gases humidified and heated using a humidified and electrically heated circuit (HHC) (the heated group, n = 20). RESULTS: Core temperatures were significantly lower in both groups from 30 min after anesthesia induction, but were significantly higher in the heated group than in the control group from 75 to 120 min after anesthesia induction. CONCLUSIONS: In this study the use of a humidified and electrically heated circuit did not prevent core temperature falling during arthroscopic shoulder surgery, but it was found to decrease reductions in core temperature from 75 min after anesthesia induction.