Background: Mechanical stapling devices are widely used in all fields of surgery as they can cut and sew tissue in a quick and easy manner. However, complications like bleeding or leakage at the staple line are frequently encountered and can have devastating consequences. Recent developments have led to the introduction of staple line reinforcement to reduce these complications. Methods: The literature has been reviewed to find and describe different methods to improve stapled resections and to give an extensive overview of the different staple line reinforcement materials, their properties and indications. Results: Several types of staple line reinforcement are available. Reinforcement of the staple line with membranes of either non-, semi- or absorbable material seems to be effective in minimizing the risk of leakage and bleeding by providing strength to the cut tissue. Conclusion: Application of staple line reinforcement material seems a promising technique in preventing leakage and bleeding at the stapled suture line, thus potentially reducing complications of gastrointestinal surgery. More studies are needed to investigate the exact properties, behavior and effects of the staple line reinforcement material. Copyright (c) 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.