Performance of gastrointestinal anastomosis by means of surgical stapling devices has achieved popularity in the last decade even though no detailed study has been reported comparing complications following the stapled anastomosis with those following hand sutured procedures performed by the same surgeons. We have reviewed 812 operative procedures on the gastrointestinal tract performed in one hospital over a four year period. Stapled anastomoses were performed in 472 with 13 (2.8%) complications related to the anastomosis; in 296 sutured anastomoses there were nine (3.0%) related complications. Comparison did not disclose any significant difference in the number of complications in these two groups. In 44 instances wherein the anastomosis contained both staples and sutures, there were no related complications. Further analysis of the patients in each group disclosed that stapling procedures were utilized in a much higher percentage of those operations which were performed under emergency conditions or in the presence of intra-abdominal sepsis, intestinal obstruction, and carcinomatosis. If the technical details of surgical stapling are mastered, this technique appears to be as safe as suturing in the performance of anastomoses in the gastrointestinal tract.