Resumo OBJECTIVES: To report the failure rate of inferior alveolar nerve block (IANB) among dental students and interns, causes of failure, investigate awareness of different IANB techniques, and to report IANB-associated complications. METHODS: A 3-page questionnaire containing 13 questions was distributed to a random sample of 350 third to fifth years students and interns at the College of Dentistry, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on January 2011. It included demographic questions (age, gender, and academic level) and questions on IANB failure frequency and reasons, actions taken to overcome the failure, and awareness of different anesthetic techniques, supplementary techniques, and complications. RESULTS: Of the 250 distributed questionnaires, 238 were returned (68% response rate). Most (85.7%) of surveyed sample had experienced IANB failure once or twice. The participants attributed the failures most commonly (66.45%) to anatomical variations. The most common alternative technique used was intraligamentary injection (57.1%), although 42.8% of the sample never attempted any alternatives. Large portion of the samples stated that they either lacked both knowledge of and training for other techniques (44.9%), or that they had knowledge of them but not enough training to perform them (45.8%). CONCLUSION: To decrease IANB failure rates for dental students and interns, knowledge of landmarks, anatomical variation and their training in alternatives to IANB, such as the Gow-Gates and Akinosi techniques, both theoretically and clinically in the dental curriculum should be enhanced.