Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the outcome of patients to whom a temporary stoma was constructed in our institution. Method: The outcome of patients operated on over an 8-year period was prospectively examined. Special attention was given to the influence of age on complications and closure of stomas. Results: Between 1989 and 1996, a total of 349 intestinal stomas were constructed in 342 patients. In 141 of these patients, the stoma could be considered as temporary. The 30-day mortality rate was 7%. The overall complication rate was 50%. Pure stoma-related complications were observed in 12% of the patients. The final closure rate of temporary stomas was 67%. The closure rate was significantly higher if the temporary stomas were of the double-barrel type. There was no significant difference in the closure rate between patients with benign and malignant diseases, but the rate decreased significantly in age groups over 70 years. Conclusions: Forty percent of stomas constructed are considered as temporary, but only two-thirds of temporary stomas are closed subsequently. Especially end stomas tend to become permanent in patients over 70 years of age, although the morbidity rates of stoma closure do not differ from those of younger patients.