Some surgeons avoid placing a jejunostomy in patients with complications, fearing either exacerbation of the disease during enteral feedings or complications from the jejunostomies. Eleven patients with hemorrhagic pancreatitis (four), pancreatic abscess (five), or infected pseudocyst (two) underwent placements of needle (five) or Red Robinson (six) jejunal catheters during laparotomy. Five patients had been given 30.8 +/- 16 liters of TPN over 25 +/- 12 days preoperatively. Only two patients received TPN postoperatively because of progressive sepsis with enteral intolerance to feedings. One of these patients developed a jejunal leak near the placement of the Red Robinson catheter. Both patients died of complications from their pancreatic disease. The remaining nine patients received 35.6 +/- 8.6 liters of enteral feedings over 31 +/- 6.8 days before resuming oral intake. Glucosuria and hyperglycemia were common, but easily managed. No catheters were lost, and diarrhea necessitating slowing and diluting the diet was unusual after the first week. Enteral feeding did not elevate amylase values. Therefore, jejunal feedings can be given safely in patients with severe acute pancreatic disease to provide prolonged nutrition without aggravating the disease.