The goal of this study was to examine the adult surgical emergencies seen at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, with a view to proffering preventive solutions where appropriate and improving outcome. From the register of patients seen at the Casualty department and from the operations register in the main operation room of NAUTH, names and hospital numbers of adult patients treated as emergencies over a 5-year period, from 7 September 1998 to 6 September 2003, were obtained. The hospital folders were then retrieved from the Records Department. From each folder, the following details about each patient were extracted: age, sex, diagnosis at presentation, causative factors, treatment given, and outcome. A total of 902 adult patients were treated during the period. The commonest emergency operation was appendectomy for acute appendicitis in 139 patients (97 women and 42 men), followed closely by road traffic accidents (RTAs) involving 137 patients (103 men and 34 women). Gunshot injuries, which resulted mainly from armed robbery attacks, accounted for 127 cases. More men (113) sustained gunshot injuries than women (14). Of the 92 cases of acute intestinal obstruction seen, 62 occurred in women and 30 in men. Some 126 men presented with acute urinary retention, and two others presented with priapism. Governments at various levels should provide modern diagnostic tools for the accurate preoperative diagnosis of surgical emergencies in hospitals. Governments should also inculcate strict discipline into drivers using the highways, particularly in relation to abuse of alcohol and drugs. Good roads and adequate security should be provided for the people. The need for Pre-Hospital Care for the efficient evacuation of accident victims is emphasized. These measures will help to improve the management and outcome of surgical emergencies, and decrease the number of surgical emergencies resulting from RTAs and gunshot wounds.