We analyzed the results of open treatment in 30 patients with abdominal sepsis (11 patients after trauma [group 1], five patients with pancreatic abscess [group 2], and 14 patients with acute GI pathology [group 3]) uncontrolled by conventional methods as evidenced by continuing fever with leukocytosis and worsening organ functions. APACHE scores at the time of initial laparotomy and at the time of open management, respectively, were: group 1, 19.8 and 16.6; group 2, 8.4 and 12.4; and group 3, 14.2 and 15.0. Twenty-seven patients had multiple system failure. Sixteen (53%) of the 30 patients survived, 73% in group 1, 60% in group 2, and 36% in group 3. Survival correlated well with age less than 50 yr and the absence of multiple organ failure. The technique was easily performed and many of the pitfalls previously reported were not observed. In patients requiring fascial prosthesis, the absorbable polyglycol acid (Dexon) mesh was found to be superior to the nonabsorbable polypropylene. We conclude that the open technique is feasible, effective, and worthy of consideration in patients with extensive wound necrosis and uncontrolled abdominal sepsis.