BACKGROUND The National Institute of Medicine's report Hospital-Based Emergency Care: At the Breaking Point highlighted the critical issue of emergency department overcrowding. At our institution, patients with anterior abdominal stab wounds (AASW) have been managed with a protocol that uses diagnostic laparoscopy (DL) after positive result on local wound exploration. Patients with negative DL result are eligible for discharge directly from the recovery room. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of DL for AASWs in light of the recommendations that suggested serial abdominal examination (SAE) is preferred to determine the need for laparotomy. METHODS Patients admitted to a Level 1 trauma center from January 2010 through August 2012 with AASWs were included (contemporary period to Western Trauma Association study). Information regarding baseline characteristics, diagnostic workup, injury management, and outcomes were retrospectively reviewed and compared with the SAE AASW algorithm. RESULTS A total of 158 patients with AASWs were evaluated using our institutional algorithm. Thirty-eight patients (24%) went directly to the operating room for peritonitis, shock, or evisceration; 120 underwent local wound exploration; 99 had positive result (82%). Twenty-eight patients had immediate laparotomy owing to worsening clinical examination findings. Seventy had DL, and 19 of these patients were discharged home from the recovery room, with a mean length of stay of 6.4 hours. When comparing patients managed using the DL algorithm to those managed using the SAE-based algorithm, the nontherapeutic laparotomy rate was lower, although not statistically significant. However, the DL algorithm produced a significantly higher percentage of patients discharged directly home following local wound exploration. CONCLUSION With some trauma centers suffering from emergency department overcrowding and constrained resources, DL may offer an alternative to SAE to efficiently use available resources. Both SAE and DL are safe and offer similar therapeutic laparotomy rates. The method used to evaluate patients after AASW should be tailored to institutional needs and resources. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic/care management, level IV.