Celiotomy in cirrhotic patients is reported to bear a high risk of operative morbidity and mortality. We reviewed 100 consecutive, cirrhotic patients who underwent nonshunt celiotomy. Thirty patients died and major complications occurred in another 30 patients. Hospital mortality rate was 21% in 39 biliary operations, 35% in 26 procedures for peptic ulcer disease, and 55% in nine colectomies . Fifty-two variables were compared between survivors without complication, survivors with complications, and nonsurvivors. A computer-generated, multivariant discriminant analysis yielded an equation predictive of survival. Utilizing coagulation parameters, presence of active infection, and serum albumin, the equation predicted survival with 89% accuracy. In a similar fashion, amount of operative transfusions, absence of postoperative ascites, pulmonary failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and culture-positive urine predicted survival with 100% accuracy. We conclude that celiotomy in the cirrhotic patient is truly associated with very high morbidity and mortality, and preoperative assessment can predict survival with 89% accuracy.