The purpose of this study was to describe staff empowerment in Finnish intensive care units. The data were collected with a questionnaire comprising demographic background and empowerment items. The concept of empowerment was divided into three components: behavioural, verbal and outcome empowerment. The questionnaire was sent to all registered nurses at Finnish intensive care units (ICUs). Eight hundred and fourteen replied, giving a response rate of 77%. The ICU nurses demonstrated confidence in their own skills and competencies, although least so in the domain of outcome empowerment. Experience of behavioural, verbal and outcome empowerment increased linearly with age. The length of nursing experience was positively associated with behavioural, verbal and outcome empowerment. Experience in ICU nursing correlated positively with verbal and outcome empowerment. Motivation, job satisfaction, respect of job autonomy and the fact that the job of ICU nurses commanded respect in society were associated with behavioural, verbal, and outcome empowerment.