Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) may be used in the treatment of acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema. It has been shown to reduce the need for intubation and to improve left ventricular function. Patients do not need to be admitted to intensive care but can be managed in a coronary care unit. Two cases are described in this article. The indications, contraindications and complications of NIPPV are described and a practical guide to its use is given.