Gangrenous bowel most often results from hernia, adhesions and mesenteric insufficiency. The overall mortality rate for 151 cases was 37%. This figure was 20% for hernia, 23% for adhesions and 74% for mesenteric insufficiency. In the latter category where bowel resection was feasable the mortality rate was 40%. Other causes of bowel gangrene had a mortality rate of 28%. In many instances the pathophysiologic processes were of such a nature that current medical expertise has not reached a level of development to effectively cope with the situation. There were, however, a significant number of cases where survival may have been achieved had it not been for deficiences on the part of the patient, the primary health care personnel or those in attendence at the referral center. The basic keystone for a successful outcome in the management of patients with the gangrenous bowel problem is early surgical intervention. All will be lost if patient exposure to this source of lethal toxins is allowed to proceed to an irreversible stage. Liberal antibiotic administration probably postpones the arrival of intractable hypotension. Other factors which can be expected to improve the survival rate include minimization of technical errors, repair of incidental hernias, elemination of dependence upon nasogastric tubes for the definitive management of patients with complete bowel obstruction (with one or two exceptions), and a firm commitment to the diligent pursuit and early definitive management of postoperative complications.