Background. The purpose of this study was to analyze the published perioperative results of laparoscopic splenectomy (LS) compared to open splenectomy (OS), and to determine the impact of LS on the incidence and type of splenectomy-related complications. Methods. Perioperative results and complications were tabulated from all English-language reports of LS from 1991 through 2002, and complications were analyzed further by type. Data were taken from 26 series that compared OS to LS within an institution (paired analysis) and from an additional 25 series of only LS (unpaired analysis), and a meta-analysis was performed. Results. A total of 2940 patients from 51 published series were included (LS, 2119 patients; OS, 821 patients). Age, gender, and American Society of Anesthesiologists class were similar. In the analysis of paired OS and LS studies, the mean operative time for LS was significantly longer (LS, 180 minutes; OS, 114 minutes; P < .0001,) but the postoperative hospital stay was shorter (LS, 3.6 days; OS, 7.2 days; P < .001). Accessory spleens were identified in 11% of cases in both groups. The total complication rate for LS was 15.5%, compared with 26.6% for OS (P < .0001). LS was associated with significantly fewer pulmonary, wound, and infectious complications (P < .001 for all) but with more hemorrhagic complications, when conversions for bleeding were included. Mortality rates for LS and OS were similar (OS, 1.1%; LS, 0.6%; P = not significant). Comparable results were obtained when the unpaired LS series were added to the analysis. Conclusions. Although operative times are longer for LS than OS, LS is associated with a significant reduction in splenectomy-related morbidity, primarily as a function of fewer pulmonary, wound, and infectious complications.