In modern surgical practice it is advisable to manage patients within an enhanced recovery protocol and thereby have them eating normal food within 1-3days. Consequently, there is little room for routine perioperative artificial nutrition. Only a minority of patients may benefit from such therapy. These are predominantly patients who are at risk of developing complications after surgery. The main goals of perioperative nutritional support are to minimize negative protein balance by avoiding starvation, with the purpose of maintaining muscle, immune, and cognitive function and to enhance postoperative recovery. Several studies have demonstrated that 7-10days of preoperative parenteral nutrition improves postoperative outcome in patients with severe undernutrition who cannot be adequately orally or enterally fed. Conversely, its use in well-nourished or mildly undernourished patients is associated with either no benefit or with increased morbidity. Postoperative parenteral nutrition is recommended in patients who cannot meet their caloric requirements within 7-10days orally or enterally. In patients who require postoperative artificial nutrition, enteral feeding or a combination of enteral and supplementary parenteral feeding is the first choice. The main consideration when administering fat and carbohydrates in parenteral nutrition is not to overfeed the patient. The commonly used formula of 25kcal/kg ideal body weight furnishes an approximate estimate of daily energy expenditure and requirements. Under conditions of severe stress requirements may approach 30kcal/kg ideal body weights. In those patients who are unable to be fed via the enteral route after surgery, and in whom total or near total parenteral nutrition is required, a full range of vitamins and trace elements should be supplemented on a daily basis.