Proinflammatory cytokines, such as tumour necrosis factor a (TNF alpha), play fundamental roles in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis (AP). The aim of this study was to determine if polymorphisms in the TNF alpha gene are associated with AP. Two polymorphisms located in the promoter region (positions -308 and -238) in TNF alpha gene were determined using polymerase chain reaction-(PCR-) restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) methods in 103 patients with AP and 92 healthy controls. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, BMI and smoking. The frequencies of TNFa polymorphisms were both similar in patients with mild or severe pancreatitis, so were in pancreatitis patients and in controls. We suggest that both SNPs of TNFa are not genetic risk factor for AP susceptibility (OR = 1.63; 95% CI: 1.13-4.01 for TNF alpha(-308) and OR = 0.86; 95% CI: 0.75-1.77 for TNF alpha(-238)).