Objective: To test the hypothesis that laparoscopic staging improves outcome in patients with peripancreatic carcinoma compared to standard radiology staging. Summary Background Data Diagnostic laparoscopy of peripancreatic malignancies has been reported to improve assessment of tumor stage and to prevent unnecessary exploratory laparotomies in 10% to 76% of patients. Methods Laparoscopy and laparoscopic ultrasound were performed in 297 consecutive patients with peripancreatic carcinoma scheduled for surgery after radiologic staging. Patients with pathology-proven unresectable tumors were randomly allocated to either surgical or endoscopic palliation. All others underwent laparotomy. Results Laparoscopic staging detected biopsy-proven unresectable disease in 39 patients (13%). At laparotomy, unresectable disease was found in another 72 patients, leading to a detection rate for laparoscopic staging of 35%. In total, 145 of the 197 patients classified as having "possibly resectable" disease after laparoscopic staging underwent resection (74%). Average survival in the group of 14 patients with biopsyproven unresectable tumors randomly allocated to endoscopic palliation was 116 days, with a mean hospital-free survival of 94 days. The corresponding figures were 192 days and 164 days in the 13 patients allocated to surgical palliation. Conclusions Because of the limited detection rate for unresectable metastatic disease and the likely absence of a large gain after switching from surgical to endoscopic palliation, laparoscopic staging should not be performed routinely in patients with peripancreatic carcinoma.