This study prospectively analyzed outcomes in 49 consecutive patients undergoing temporary abdominal closure (TAC) between 1993 and 1996 at a single university hospital.There were 37 males and 12 females, mean age was 57 years (range, 25-79 years), mean Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation score was 27 (+/- 7.8 SD), and mean Simplified Acute Physiology II score was 53.0 (+/- 15.4). The reason for TAC was decompression in 22 patients, inability to close the abdomen in 10 patients, to facilitate reexploration for sepsis in 8 patients, and multifactorial in 9 patients. After TAC, there was a significant reduction in intra-abdominal pressure from 24.2 +/- 9.3 to 14.1 +/- 5.5 mm Hg and improvement in lung dynamic compliance from 24.1 +/- 7.9 to 27.6 +/- 9.4 mL/cm H2 O (p < 0.05). Although 10 patients experienced brisk diuresis, there was no significant improvement in renal function; in fact, serum creatinine increased. The median length of stay was 35 days (range, 1-232 days). The mean number of abdominal operations after mesh insertion was 2.6 +/- 2.4. There were 21 deaths, for a standardized mortality rate of 0.80. Although it achieved significant reductions in abdominal pressures and improved lung dynamic compliance, TAC did not result in improved renal function or patient oxygenation.