The benefits of pancreas transplantation (PT) must be weighed against the morbidity associated with the operative procedure and long-term immunosuppression. Over a 32-month period, we performed 73 PTs including 61 combined pancreas-kidney transplants (PKT) and 12 solitary PTs. In the PKT group, 25 reoperations were performed in 18 patients (29.5%) at a mean of 39 +/- 12 days after transplant. In the solitary PT group, 16 reoperations were performed in 8 recipients (66.7%, p = 0.03) at a mean of 87 +/- 12 days after PT (p < 0.01). In the PKT group, pancreas allograft survival was 93.4%. Vascular thrombosis resulted in the loss of two pancreas allografts. In the solitary PT group, pancreas allograft survival was 50% (p < 0.001), with 6 transplant pancreatectomies performed for either infectious (5) or vascular (1) complications. Surgical complications after PT are common (35.6% in this series), occur earlier in patients who undergo PKT, and are more frequent and morbid in patients undergoing solitary PT, especially after a previous kidney transplant. An aggressive surgical approach can lead to a high rate of pancreas allograft salvage without jeopardizing either the patient or the renal allograft.