Background: The selective non-operative management of penetrating abdominal injury is gaining increasing acceptance. In Great Britain and Ireland, the management of trauma remains the responsibility of general surgeons. This study appraises the acceptance and utilisation of selective non-operative management strategies by British and Irish general surgeons, compared with trauma surgeons in the United States of America. Methods: Electronic questionnaire survey of British and Irish consultant general surgeons and trauma surgeons in the United States of America. Results: 139 British and Irish general surgeons and 75 US trauma surgeons completed the survey. 84.3% of British and Irish general surgeons and 94.4% of US trauma surgeons practise selective non-operative management of abdominal stab wounds, and 14.0% and 74.3% practise selective non-operative management of abdominal gunshot wounds. The management of those British and Irish surgeons who do practise selective non-operative management is broadly similar to that of US trauma surgeons, with the exception of the use of laparoscopy to examine the left hemidiaphragm following thoracoabdominal injuries, which is employed by fewer British and Irish general surgeons than US trauma surgeons. Conclusions: The selective non-operative management of abdominal stab wounds is generally accepted by British and Irish general surgeons. In contrast, few British and Irish surgeons are comfortable with non-operatively managing patients with abdominal gunshot wounds, reflecting both the rarity of this type of injury, and surgeons' training and experience. This proportion is unlikely to change until the management of torso trauma is recognised as a specialty, and services are concentrated in regional centres. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.