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We retrospectively analyzed 36 patients requiring temporary abdominal wall closure on admission to a level I trauma center from 1988 to 1992. There were 10 deaths (28%) in the study population. Of the 26 survivors, 8 patients (31%) had primary fascial closure at initial hospitalization, whereas 18 patients (69%) required split-thickness skin grafting to visceral granulation tissue. Of these 18 patients, 13 have had ventral herniorrhaphy at subsequent admission. Eight of these patients had primary fascial closure, 4 required primary fascial approximation with prosthetic onlay reinforcement, and 1 required multiple operations including prosthetic reconstruction and eventual complex tissue transfer. Complications occurred in 3 patients (14%) and included two wound seromas, which were drained nonoperatively, and a wound infection necessitating removal of prosthetic material and subsequent reconstruction with complex tissue transfer. Follow-up reveals no recurrent hernia at 24 months. Abdominal wall reconstruction after temporary closure can be done safely and promptly, with good functional and esthetic results.