Pressure changes in the pulp chamber resulting from crown cementation have not been previously quantified. An experiment was designed to investigate the effect of smear layer removal on the peak pressure transmitted to the pulp chamber with crown cementation. Ten matched pairs of single-rooted premolar teeth were collected from adolescents and prepared for full-coverage crowns. The pulp tissue from each tooth was removed. One tooth from each pair had the smear layer removed with the application of 37% phosphoric acid for 30 s. The null hypothesis states that the removal of the dentinal smear layer will not change pressure in the pulp chamber resulting from the cementation. Before cementation, a hydrostatic head of pressure was used to perfuse the tooth, and the perfusion rate was recorded. Crowns were cemented with zinc phosphate cement with a seating force of 100 N. The mean peak pressures recorded were 85 Pa (SE 12 Pa) with the smear layer intact, and 194 Pa (SE 49 Pa) when the dentin was etched. The difference in the peak pressures transmitted to the pulp chamber with the two groups was significant (p < or = 0.05). A significant negative correlation was found between dentin thickness and the peak pressure transmitted to the pulp chamber (r = -0.5531, p < or = 0.01). We have shown that the pressure transmission to the pulp chamber during crown cementation can be measured. Since smear layer removal significantly influences the peak pressure, it is concluded that the pressure detected is at least partially dependent on the fluid flow through the dentin.