Laparoscopic surgery requires inflation of the abdominal cavity and this offers a unique opportunity to measure the mechanical properties of the living abdominal wall. We used a motion analysis system to study the abdominal wall motion of 18 patients undergoing laparoscopic surgery, and found that the mean Young's modulus was 27.7+/-4.5 and 21.0+/-3.7 kPa for male and female, respectively. During inflation, the abdominal wall changed from a cylinder to a dome shape. The average expansion in the abdominal wall surface was 20%, and a working space of 1.27 x 10(-3)m(3) was created by expansion, reshaping of the abdominal wall and diaphragmatic movement. For the first time, the elasticity of human abdominal wall was obtained from the patients undergoing laparoscopic surgery, and a 3D simulation model of human abdominal wall has been developed to analyse the motion pattern in laparoscopic surgery. Based on this study, a mechanical abdominal wall lift and a surgical simulator for safe/ergonomic port placements are under development.