The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency of Candida infection of pancreatic necrosis in patients suffering from severe acute pancreatitis (SAP) and to analyze its impact on the outcome. Two-hundred and fifty consecutive patients with SAP from January 1986 to December 1998 were studied retrospectively. Their mean APACHE II score at the day of admission was in 16.1 (range 8-35). All patients were in need of operative therapy. Overall mortality was 38.8% (97 patients). One-hundred and eighty-two patients (72.8%) suffered from local infected necrosis. Among these patients, local Candida infection was observed in 31 patients, whereof 23 patients (74%) suffered from local fungal infection detected at first operation. During the course of disease, 12 patients (39%) also revealed fungemia. Local Candida infection as compared to no Candida infection was associated with an increased mortality rate (84% vs. 32%; P 0.0001). Multivariate logistic regression analysis identified APACHE II score (P < 0.0001), age of the patient (P < 0.003), extent of pancreatic necrosis (P < 0.002), and local bacterial (P < 0.04) and fungal infection (P < 0.004) as independent factors significantly contributing to mortality. SAP, requiring surgical treatment, is associated with high in-hospital mortality. Patients suffering from local Candida infection are at high risk of fatal outcome.