Enhanced recovery of patients after surgery ("ERAS") has become an important focus of perioperative management. From a metabolic and nutritional point of view, the key aspects of perioperative care include: Enteral nutrition (EN) by means of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) and if necessary tube feeding (TF) offers the possibility of increasing or ensuring nutrient intake in cases where food intake is inadequate. These guidelines are intended to give evidence-based recommendations for the use of ONS and TF in surgical patients. They were developed by an interdisciplinary expert group in accordance with officially accepted standards and are based on all relevant publications since 1980. The guideline was discussed and accepted in a consensus conference. EN is indicated even in patients without obvious undernutrition, if it is anticipated that the patient will be unable to eat for more than 7 days perioperatively. It is also indicated in patients who cannot maintain oral intake above 60% of recommended intake for more than 10 days. In these situations nutritional support should be initiated without delay. Delay of surgery for preoperative EN is recommended for patients at severe nutritional risk, defined by the presence of at least one of the following criteria: weight loss >10-15% within 6 months, BMI<18.5kg/m(2), Subjective Global Assessment Grade C, serum albumin <30g/l (with no evidence of hepatic or renal dysfunction). Altogether, it is strongly recommended not to wait until severe undernutrition has developed, but to start EN therapy early, as soon as a nutritional risk becomes apparent. The full version of this article is available at .