Cirrhosis affects millions of people throughout the world. Two of the most serious complications of liver cirrhosis are ascites and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). The development of ascites is related to the severity of portal hypertension and is an indicator of increased mortality. Although sodium restriction and diuretic therapy have proven effective, some patients may not respond appropriately or develop adverse reactions to diuretic therapy. In such cases, interventions such as transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) placement are warranted. SBP is a complication of ascites that confers a very high mortality rate. Recognition and prompt treatment of this condition is essential to prevent serious morbidity and mortality. Initiation of prophylaxis in SBP remains controversial. Given the burden of liver cirrhosis on the health care system, ascites and SBP will continue to provide challenges for the primary care provider, hospitalist, internist, and gastroenterologist alike.