Penetrating injuries of the lower thoracic wall and anterior abdominal wall cause difficulties in the decision for laparotomy. For gunshot wounds laparotomy without further investigations is in most cases justified, but in other penetrating traumata one should use every diagnostic modality to prevent unacceptably high negative laparotomy rates. We performed diagnostic laparoscopy (DL) on 39 patients with penetrating injuries of the anterior abdominal wall and/or lower thoracic wall. Of these 39 patients, 25 had negative and 14 positive results. We had only one false-negative finding. No false-positive result occurred. We think that DL is a very reliable diagnostic tool which requires a relatively high technology.