OBJECTIVES Abdominal surgery after lung transplantation is an important factor for major morbidity and mortality. Herein, we describe the incidence and outcome of abdominal surgery occurring early or late after transplantation. METHODS Overall, 315 patients who underwent lung transplantation between January 2000 and December 2013 at our institution were included in a prospective database. Perioperative parameters were assessed, and complications were graded according to the Clavien-Dindo Classification. RESULTS Among 315 patients after lung transplantation, 52 patients underwent abdominal surgery, 16 during the early postoperative phase and 42 at later time points. Bowel ischaemia and perforation of the right colon were the most common reason for early surgery, with a median interval of 7 days after lung transplantation. The median survival time for patients with early abdominal surgery was 31 months compared to 40 and 90 months for patients with no or late abdominal surgery (P = 0.001 and P = 0.002, respectively). The most common late indications for surgery were perforated diverticulitis, ileus and hernia, with a median interval of 37.9 months after lung transplantation and a median survival comparable with patients without any abdominal surgery (P = 0.9). However, prior hospitalization due to a non-abdominal disease was associated with increased morbidity (P = 0.006) after late surgery. CONCLUSIONS Early abdominal surgeries after lung transplantation are associated with a significant mortality risk. Abdominal operations at late time points have a favourable outcome unless patients were hospitalized prior to the abdominal complication. Clinical trial registration number ZH-KEK-Nr. 2014-0244.