Little is known about ethnic differences among patients with gallstone pancreatitis in the United States. The purpose of this study was to compare Hispanic and non-Hispanic patients with gallstone pancreatitis with regard to severity of disease, level of care required, length of hospital stay, and clinical outcomes. A retrospective cohort study of 198 consecutive patients with gallstone pancreatitis was performed from 2003 to 2005. Overall, 161 patients were Hispanic and 37 were non-Hispanic. The average age of Hispanic patients was 41 years versus 47.5 years in the non-Hispanic group (P = 0.02). Only 16 (10%) Hispanic patients had a Ranson score of 2 or greater versus nine (24%) of the non-Hispanic group (P = 0.03). Only 39 (24%) Hispanic patients were admitted to an intensive care unit or stepdown unit versus 17 (46%) of the non-Hispanic group (P = 0.01). Hispanic patients underwent cholecystectomy at an average of 5.8 days after admission versus 6.6 days for non-Hispanic patients (P = 0.07). There was a 4 per cent complication rate and a 2 per cent readmission rate overall with no statistically significant differences between the two groups and no mortality. The majority of Hispanic patients with gallstone pancreatitis have a benign disease process, presenting at a younger age, with less severe disease that infrequently requires intensive care unit admission.