The clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment and outcome of 22 cows with ileal impaction were investigated using the medical records of bovine patients referred to the Department of Farm Animals, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich from 1993 to 2003. Only 15 of the cows had signs of colic, which were subtle but slowly increased in severity in some patients. The results of haematological and biochemical analyses were mildly abnormal in only few animals. There was no correlation between the duration of the disorder before admission, the severity of symptoms and the results of the haematological and biochemical analyses. Dilated loops of small intestine in the right dorsal quadrant of the abdomen could be palpated transrectally and imaged via ultrasonography. A definitive diagnosis of ileal impaction was made during exploratory laparotomy by finding the impaction and ruling out other abnormalities. In 19 cows, the obstructing food mass was easily massaged into the caecum, and in three animals an enterotomy was carried out. All cows had an uneventful recovery with no recurrence of the disorder. It is concluded that the cause of the impaction was most likely due to seasonal influences and winter-feeding with a hay based ration. The short and long-term prognosis after surgical intervention was good.