Recurrent acute pancreatitis is a common clinical problem. Most cases of pancreatitis are identified by a careful history and physical examination. Despite advanced evaluation, the cause is not apparent in about 10% of cases. The etiology of recurrent acute pancreatitis appears to be multifactorial, with genetic and environmental influences playing a significant role. The strength of evidence for certain etiologies is highly variable, and natural history data are limited. Controversy exists regarding the most appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic approach. Recurrent acute pancreatitis often represents a continuum with chronic pancreatitis.