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Sepsis continues to account for a second peak in mortality in patients with severe acute pancreatitis. The prevention of these septic complications and subsequent development of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome remains a major focus for investigators, yet despite considerable clinical and experimental work addressing its etiology, septic complications remain high. Several studies have been designed to demonstrate the mechanism of origin of these septic complications with an attempt to define strategies for their prevention to improve patient outcomes. There is clear evidence that the origin of this secondary bacterial infection arises from enteric bacterial translocation secondary to disruption of the gut mucosal barrier during acute pancreatitis. Strategies designed to prevent secondary pancreatic infection include aggressive fluid resuscitation to maximize organ perfusion, early systemic antibiotic treatment or selective gut decontamination, and recently attempts to block mediators of the systemic inflammatory response. This discussion will summarize our present understanding of the etiopathogenesis of secondary bacterial ‘superinfection’ of necrotizing pancreatitis and how the initiation of enteral feeding early in the course of acute pancreatitis may prove to be an effective means of preventing and/or reversing the breakdown of the gut mucosal defense barrier.