There is little uniformity in either the indications for operation, the classification of the pathology or the operative management of generalized or faecal peritonitis secondary to perforated diverticular disease. Nevertheless, this review has shown a clear advantage both in terms of immediate mortality and morbidity for primary resection over conservative operations in which the colon is retained in the abdomen. We propose that, when a clinical diagnosis of localized sepsis secondary to diverticular disease is made, the management should be nonoperative with systemic antibiotics and supportive therapy. Operation should be reserved for those patients with obvious generalized peritonitis or failure of conservative treatment. When operation is necessary the affected sigmoid loop should be resected and the operation completed as a Hartmann's procedure in all but the most favourable circumstances when a primary anastomosis may be considered after on-table irrigation of the colon.