Diagnostic laparoscopy is minimally invasive surgery for the diagnosis of intraabdominal diseases. The aim of this review is a critical examination of the available literature on the role of laparoscopy for the staging of intraabdominal cancers. A systematic literature search of English-language articles on MEDLINE, the Cochrane database of evidence-based reviews, and the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects was performed for the period 1995-2006. The level of evidence in the identified articles was graded. The search identified and reviewed seven main categories that have received attention in the literature: esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, biliary tract cancer, colorectal cancer, and lymphoma. The indications, contraindications, risks, benefits, diagnostic accuracy of the procedure, and its associated morbidity are discussed. The limitations of the available literature are highlighted, and evidence-based recommendations for the use of laparoscopy to stage intraabdominal cancers are provided.