The present study reports 18 patients operated on for chronic pancreatitis complicated by bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, the peritoneal cavity or the retroperitoneal space. Damage to the splenic artery by a pancreatic pseudocyst was the most common reason for the bleeding (10 patients, 56%) and the most common site was the duodenum (10 patients, 56%). Eleven patients were treated by transcystic multiple suture ligations combined with external drainage of the pseudocyst, and seven by pancreatic resection or total pancreatectomy. Hospital mortality was 33% (6 patients); two patients had undergone transcystic suture ligation, and four pancreatic resection. Five patients needed a reoperation because of further bleeding, four of them having been treated initially by transcystic suture ligation. Our results suggest that haemostasis by suture ligation is a method to be recommended if the patient's condition has been exacerbated by severe haemorrhage.