Increasing evidence suggests that motility disorders of the sphincter of Oddi may lead to episodes of recurrent pancreatitis in a small proportion of patients with the diagnosis of idiopathic recurrent pancreatitis. Over 10 years, 35 patients have been identified and treated for this condition. The aim of the study was to assess symptomatic outcome in these patients. Following the exclusion of common causes of pancreatitis the patients underwent sphincter of Oddi manometry. Patients with manometric abnormalities and three with normal manometric findings underwent treatment. Twenty-six patients with persistent symptoms underwent total division of the sphincter via open sphincteroplasty and septectomy. Patients were followed up according to symptoms and classed as having a cure, mild symptoms or no change. At a median follow-up of 24 (range 9-105) months, 15 of the 26 patients were cured, eight had only mild symptoms and three remained unchanged. In the majority of patients with a good clinical outcome, manometry had demonstrated sphincter of Oddi stenosis. Total division of the sphincter of Oddi is associated with good symptomatic outcome in patients with recurrent episodes of pancreatitis and documented sphincter of Oddi stenosis.