In the Pediatric Surgical Department of The St Radboud Hospital, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, between January 1970 and December 1980, 1476 laparotomies were performed on neonates, infants, and children. In 33 of these patient the abdominal surgery was complicated by a postoperative small bowel obstruction (SBO), for which a second laparotomy had to be performed. In 80% of patients this SBO developed within three months of the prior operation. The risk of developing an adhesive SBO was greater when there was more than one prior peritoneal procedure, and when, during this prior procedure, there was already a peritonitis. There was no obvious relation with the nature of the original operation. In more than 70% of patients a single adhesion caused the obstruction, while in many of these cases there were already circulatory disturbances, even by early reintervention. The mortality was 6%.