The problem of peritonitis after perforation or trauma to the colon continues to be an important one for colon and rectal surgeons. Treatments vary, but mortality and morbidity have always been high. For these reasons, the usefulness of continuous peritoneal lavage as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of peritonitis was examined. Twenty patients with gross peritoneal contamination were treated with continuous postoperative peritoneal irrigation for 17 to 72 hours. No patient died of sepsis or developed an intra-abdominal abscess. Three patients died: two of advanced cancer and one of a pulmonary embolus. Three additional patients developed complications: mild congestive heart failure in two and transient respiratory failure in one.