The requirement to phase out mercuric oxide (mercury) batteries on environmental grounds has led to the widespread introduction of zinc-air technology. The possibility arises that high drain hearing aids may not be adequately catered for by zinc-air cells, leading to poor performance. This study investigated the hearing aid user's ability to perceive differences between zinc-air and mercury cells in normal everyday usage. The data was collected for 100 experienced hearing aid users in field trials. Users report 50 per cent greater life for zinc-air cells in high power aids and 28 per cent in low power aids. The average life of the zinc-air cells range from 15 days in high power to 34 days in low power aids. Users are able to perceive a difference in sound quality in favour of zinc-air cells for low and medium power aids. The hearing aid population is not disadvantaged by phasing out mercury cells.