BACKGROUND: The presence of family in the patient care area during resuscitation events is a matter of current debate among health care professionals in many communities. Family presence is highly recommended by many health organizations worldwide for several reasons including patient and family rights. There are no policies or guidelines in Saudi Arabia to guide health professionals in their practice regarding the option of family being present during resuscitations. The purpose of this study was to identify the attitudes of nurses towards family presence during resuscitation in the Muslim community of Saudi Arabia. DESIGN: This is a descriptive survey using data from a convenience sample of 132 nurses using a self-administered questionnaire. The study took place in two major trauma centres in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. RESULTS: The analysis of the data revealed that nurses (n = 132) had negative attitudes towards family presence during resuscitation. A high percentage (77·2%) agreed that witnessing resuscitation is a traumatic experience for the family members. Almost all participants (92·3%) disagreed with the statement that the practice of allowing family members to be present during the resuscitation of a loved one would benefit the patient and 78% disagreed with the statement that it would benefit families. The majority of the participants (65%) revealed that the presence of family would negatively affect the performance of the resuscitation team. However, almost half of the sample (43·8%) would prefer a written policy allowing the option of family presence during resuscitation in Saudi Arabia. CONCLUSION: The findings of the study strongly suggest the need for the development of written policies offering families the option to remain with patients during resuscitation in Saudi Arabia. The study further recommends the development of education programs for staff and public for the safe implementation of the practice.