The use of biologic mesh in abdominal wall operations has gained popularity despite a paucity of outcome data. Numerous biologic products are available with virtually no clinical comparison studies. A retrospective study was conducted to compare patients who underwent abdominal wall hernia repair with Permacol™ (crosslinked porcine dermis) and Strattice™ (noncrosslinked porcine dermis). Of 270 reviewed patients, 195 were implanted with Permacol™ and 75 with Strattice™. Ventral hernia repairs comprised the majority (85% for Permacol, 97% for Strattice™). Postoperative infection rate was lower in the Strattice™ group (5 vs 21%, P < 0.01). In the Permacol™ group only, the overall complication rates were significantly higher in patients with infected versus clean wounds (55 vs 35%, P < 0.05) and in obese patients (body mass index 40 kg/m(2) or greater [57 vs 34%], P < 0.01). Short-term complication and recurrence rates were higher when mesh was used as a fascial bridge: 51 versus 28 per cent for Permacol™, 58 versus 20 per cent for Strattice™. The hernia recurrence was similar in both groups. In this review of patients undergoing abdominal hernia repair with biologic mesh, Strattice™ mesh was associated with a lower short-term complication rate compared with Permacol™, but the hernia recurrence rate was similar.