The objective of this study was to compare initial use of the open abdomen using the vacuum-pack technique followed by delayed abdominal closure with standard primary abdominal closure in the treatment of ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (rAAA) repair. A retrospective review identified 122 rAAA cases, which were divided into two management eras: era 1 (primarily closed) and era 2 (47% open abdomen).One hundred three patients were included in this review: 58 in era 1 and 45 in era 2. Evidence of one of three ischemia-reperfusion (IR) criteria, preoperative hypotension, estimated blood loss > or = 6 L, or intraoperative resuscitation with > or = 12 L, predicted mortality. These criteria were also used as surrogate clinical markers for abdominal compartment syndrome. The in-hospital mortality was higher in those with at least one IR criterion: 43% versus 10% (p = .0003). In those with at least one IR criterion, the initial 24-hour mortality was 21% for era 1 versus 0% for era 2 (p = .03), and the 30-day mortality was 40% for era 1 and 32% for era 2 (p = .77).Three IR criteria were identified and were associated with increased mortality. Patients with these risk factors who were treated with delayed abdominal closure had an improved acute survival rate and a trend for improved long-term survival.