Acute abdominal pain is one of the most common causes for referrals to the emergency department. The sudden onset of severe abdominal pain characterising the "acute abdomen" requires rapid and accurate identification of a potentially life-threatening abdominal pathology to provide a timely referral to the appropriate physician. While the physical examination and laboratory investigations are often non-specific, computed tomography (CT) has evolved as the first-line imaging modality in patients with an acute abdomen. Because the new multi-detector CT (MDCT) scanner generations provide increased speed, greater volume coverage and thinner slices, the acceptance of CT for abdominal imaging has increased rapidly. The goal of this article is to discuss the role of MDCT in the diagnostic work-up of acute abdominal pain.