To determine the incidence of acute pancreatitis in pancreatic carcinoma, a retrospective study was performed in 174 patients. Acute pancreatitis was found in 24 (13.8%), and hyperamylasaemia, but no clinical manifestation of acute pancreatitis, was found in 17 (9.8%) of these patients. The incidence of acute pancreatitis was higher when the papilla of Vater or the head of the pancreas was involved. Clinically, pancreatitis was slight to moderate, and the underlying disease was soon diagnosed with invasive procedures. Pancreatic carcinoma should be considered an etiological factor in patients with relapsing and/or unexplained pancreatitis of long duration.