The diagnosis and management of the patient with an acute abdomen remains one of the most difficult challenges for the surgeon. A thorough understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the abdomen are essential to properly generate a differential diagnosis and to formulate a treatment plan. While recent advances in technology can be extremely helpful in certain situations, they cannot replace a physician's clinical judgment based upon a good history and physical examination. This article provides a general overview of the evaluation of the patient with an acute abdomen. It will also suggest algorithms to consider in the diagnosis and treatment of these patients.