Spirometric monitoring provides precise measurement and delivery of tidal volumes within a narrow range, which is essential for lung-protective strategies that aim to reduce morbidity and mortality in mechanically-ventilated patients. Conventional anaesthesia ventilators include inbuilt spirometry to monitor inspiratory and expiratory tidal volumes. The GE Aisys CS anaesthesia ventilator allows additional near-patient spirometry via a sensor interposed between the proximal end of the tracheal tube and the respiratory tubing. Near-patient and inbuilt spirometry of two different GE Aisys CS anaesthesia ventilators were compared in an in-vitro study. Assessments were made of accuracy and variability in inspiratory and expiratory tidal volume measurements during ventilation of six simulated paediatric lung models using the ASL 5000 test lung. A total of 9240 breaths were recorded and analysed. Differences between inspiratory tidal volumes measured with near-patient and inbuilt spirometry were most significant in the newborn setting (p < 0.001), and became less significant with increasing age and weight. During expiration, tidal volume measurements with near-patient spirometry were consistently more accurate than with inbuilt spirometry for all lung models (p < 0.001). Overall, the variability in measured tidal volumes decreased with increasing tidal volumes, and was smaller with near-patient than with inbuilt spirometry. The variability in measured tidal volumes was higher during expiration, especially with inbuilt spirometry. In conclusion, the present in-vitro study shows that measurements with near-patient spirometry are more accurate and less variable than with inbuilt spirometry. Differences between measurement methods were most significant in the smallest patients. We therefore recommend near-patient spirometry, especially for neonatal and paediatric patients.