Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) were caught as part of a long-term demographic study on Macquarie Island. Over 18 months, 1033 seals were caught by hand and anaesthetised intravenously with a 1:1 mixture of tiletamine and zolazepam. Assessments were made of the effects of variations in the body condition and age at capture of the seals on the characteristics of their anaesthesia, including induction time and weighted recovery time. The size and condition of the seals were assessed by morphometric and ultrasound measurements. Weighted recovery times decreased as the body condition and age of the seals increased, but there were no residual effects of sex. There were no fatalities, and no periods of apnoea longer than five minutes were recorded. In individual seals there was a significant increase in weighted recovery time with successive captures.