HYPOTHESIS Patients with mild gallstone pancreatitis may undergo an early laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) within 48 hours of hospital admission without awaiting the normalization of pancreatic and liver enzyme levels. This may decrease the hospital stay without increasing morbidity or mortality and may minimize the unnecessary use of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. DESIGN A retrospective review. SETTING Two university-affiliated urban medical centers. PATIENTS A total of 303 patients with mild gallstone pancreatitis, of whom 117 underwent an early LC and 186 underwent a delayed LC. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Hospital length of stay, morbidity and mortality rates, and the use of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. RESULTS Similar hospital admission variables were observed in the early and delayed LC groups, although the delayed group was older (P = .006). The median hospital length of stay was significantly less for the early group than for the delayed group (3 vs 6 days; P < .001). There were no patients who died, and the complication rates were similar for both groups. However, the patients who underwent an early LC were less likely than patients who underwent a delayed LC to undergo endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (P = .02). CONCLUSIONS An early LC may be safely performed for patients with mild gallstone pancreatitis, without concern for increased morbidity and mortality, resulting in shortened hospital stays and a decrease in the use of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The practice of delaying an LC until normalization of laboratory values appears to be unnecessary.