In a prospective study of 6301 surgical patients in a university hospital, we examined the strength of association between ASA physical status classification and perioperative risk factors, and postoperative outcome, using both univariate analysis and calculation of the odds ratio of the risk of developing a postoperative complication by means of a logistic regression model. Univariate analysis showed a significant correlation (P < 0.05) between ASA class and perioperative variables (intraoperative blood loss, duration of postoperative ventilation and duration of intensive care stay), postoperative complications and mortality rate. Univariate analysis of individual preoperative risk factors demonstrated their importance in the development of postoperative complications in the related organ systems. Estimating the increased risk odds ratio for single variables, we found that the risk of complication was influenced mainly by ASA class IV (risk odds ratio = 4.2) and ASA class III (risk odds ratio = 2.2). We conclude that ASA physical status classification was a predictor of postoperative outcome.