Abstract Fifty patients with major fractures of the pelvis (Trunkey's classification types I and II) treated in an urban Level I Trauma Center were analysed to assess the role of peritoneal lavage and urological studies in the initial evaluation. The mechanisms of injury were automobile v. pedestrian (44 per cent), falls from heights (44 per cent), and motor vehicular accidents (12 per cent). Important hypotension was present in 46 per cent of patients on arrival. Peritoneal tap or lavage was selectively used in 11 patients (22 per cent). Four patients in refractory hypotension despite vigorous resuscitation had positive results. There were no false-positive results or missed intra-abdominal injuries in any of the 50 patients. Laparotomy was carried out in 10 of 50 patients. IVP or cystography was performed in 25 of 50 patients. However, injuries of the urinary tract requiring operative correction (eight injuries in six patients) were all associated with gross haematuria. Urological studies were negative in patients with 1 to 3+ microscopic haematuria. Peritoneal lavage is recommended on a selective basis in patients with pelvic fractures. Microscopic haematuria does not warrant contrast studies of the urinary tract.