Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the fourth most frequent cause of cancer-related death. The incidence is increasing and the overall survival has altered little in recent years. Moreover, patients usually present late with inoperable disease and curative resection by standard pancreatico-duodenectomy (Whipple's procedure) is associated with significant morbidity. It should only be attempted in that small group of patients lacking radiological evidence of advanced disease. Despite the recent advances in body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), computed tomography (CT) is the mainstay of staging in most centres and the recent development of multidetector CT machines (MDCT) has raised hope of an improvement in preoperative staging. This review focuses on the CT of pancreatic adenocarcinoma with particular emphasis on examination technique and on those criteria that determine resectability.