Cirrhosis of the liver appears to have an unfavorable prognosis in the surgical patient. The aim of this study was to determine risk factors for morbidity and mortality in patients with cirrhosis undergoing nonhepatic surgery. We studied 135 patients with liver cirrhosis undergoing nonhepatic procedures and 86 controls matched by age, sex, and preoperative diagnosis. Preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative variables associated with 30-day mortality and morbidity were assessed by univariate and multivariate analyses. Patients with cirrhosis showed higher blood transfusion requirements, longer length of hospital stay, and a higher number of complications than controls. The mortality rate was 16.3% in cirrhotics and 3.5% in controls. By univariate analysis, the need for transfusions, prothrombin time, and Child-Pugh score were significantly associated with postoperative liver decompensation, whereas duration of surgery, prothrombin time, Child-Pugh score, cirrhosis-related complications, and general complications were significantly associated with mortality. In the multivariate analysis, Child-Pugh score (odds ratio [OR] 24.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] 5.5 to 106); duration of surgery (OR 5; 95% CI 1.2 to 15.6), and postoperative general complications (OR 3.7; 95% CI 3.4 to 6.4) were independent predictors of mortality. Patients with cirrhosis undergoing nonhepatic operations are at significant risk of perioperative complications leading to death. Independent variables associated with perioperative mortality include preoperative Child-Pugh score, the duration of surgery, and the presence of postoperative general complications.