It has recently been suggested that wearing a maxillary occlusal splint (i.e. a hard acrylic resin dental appliance that covers the occlusal surfaces of the maxillary dentition and that is being indicated for the treatment of, e.g. temporomandibular pain) may be associated with a risk of aggravating obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). The present study tested the hypothesis that raising the bite without mandibular protrusion in OSA patients is associated with an increase in the apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI). Eighteen OSA patients (13 men; 49·5 ± 8·1 years old) received a mandibular advancement device in 0% protrusion of the mandible (0%MAD). The MAD caused a bite rise of 6 mm as measured interincisally. Polysomnographic recordings were obtained at baseline and with the 0%MAD in situ. No statistically significant difference in AHI was noted between the baseline night and the 0%MAD night. However, nine patients had an aggravation in AHI during the night they used the 0%MAD. Taking into account the previously established smallest detectable difference of 12·8 in AHI, the AHI increased in only two of the patients. The outcomes of this study suggest that an increased jaw gape without mandibular protrusion might be associated with a risk of aggravation of OSA for some, but not for all OSA patients. Dental practitioners should be aware of this possible association when treating patients with oral devices that raise the bite.