Sixty-three patients with splenic injuries were treated during a 5-yr period from 1974-1979. The decision to operate was based on the patient's clinical course, not on the presence of splenic injury alone. Those who were stable on admission or after initial resuscitation were treated nonoperatively. This consisted of strict bed rest, nasogastric suction, and i.v. fluids--including blood--as required. Those who bled massively were operated on promptly. At operation, the spleen was repaired if possible or excised if damaged beyond repair. Forty patients were treated nonoperatively. Sixteen of these required blood transfusions (mean 31.2 +/- 5.3 ml/kg). One patient in this group developed a large defect on spleen scan at 3 wk post injury. There was no other morbidity and no mortality following nonoperative treatment. Nineteen required operation all within 16 hr of admission. Fifteen underwent splenectomy, 2 partial splenectomy, and 1 splenorrhaphy. In 1 the bleeding had stopped. All required blood before operation (mean 80.4 +/- 10.1 ml/kg). Seven in this group died (6 from head injuries and 1 from bleeding). Thus surgery was avoided in 2 out of 3 and the spleen saved in 3 out of 4 patients with documented splenic injuries. We believe that where adequate facilities exist nonoperative treatment of splenic injuries is both safe and effective. When bleeding is massive from the beginning or replacement requirements exceed 40 ml/kg, operation is indicated.