Acute mesenteric ischaemia (AMI) accounts for about 1:1000 acute hospital admissions. Untreated, AMI will cause mesenteric infarction, intestinal necrosis, an overwhelming inflammatory response and death. Early intervention can halt and reverse this process leading to a full recovery, but the diagnosis of AMI is difficult and failure to recognize AMI before intestinal necrosis has developed is responsible for the high mortality of the disease. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are the goals of modern therapy, but there are no randomized controlled trials to guide treatment and the published literature contains a high ratio of reviews to original data. Much of that data comes from case reports and often small, retrospective series with no clearly defined treatment criteria.