Objective: To develop a new classification of acute pancreatitis severity on the basis of a sound conceptual framework, comprehensive review of the published evidence, and worldwide consultation. Backgrounds: The Atlanta definitions of acute pancreatitis severity are ingrained in the lexicon of specialist in pancreatic diseases, but are suboptimal because these definitions are based on the empiric description of events not associated with severity. Methods: A personal invitation to contribute to the development of a new classification of acute pancreatitis severity was sent to all surgeons, gastroenterologists, internists, intensivists and radiologists currently active in the field of clinical acute pancreatitis. The invitation was not limited to members of certain associations or residents of certain countries. A global web-based survey was conducted, and a dedicated international symposium was organized to bring contributors from different disciplines together and discuss the concept and definitions. Results: The new classification of severity is based on the actual local and systemic determinants of severity, rather than on the description of events that are non-causally associated with severity. The local determinant relates to whether there is (peri) pancreatic necrosis or not, and if present, whether it is sterile or infected. The systemic determinant relates to whether there is organ failure or not, and if present, whether it is transient or persistent. The presence of one determinant can modify the effect of another, whereby the presence of both infected (peri) pancreatic necrosis and persistent organ failure has a greater impact upon severity than either determinant alone. The derivation of a classification based on the above principles results in four categories of severity: mild, moderate, severe, and critical. Conclusions: This classification is the result of a consultative process among specialists in pancreatic diseases from 49 countries spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa. It provides a set of concise up to date definitions of all the main entities pertinent to classifying the severity of acute pancreatitis in clinical practice and research. This ensures that the determinant-based classification can be used in a uniform manner throughout the world. © 2013 Elsevier España, S.L. and SEMICYUC.