Maintaining the plasma fibrinogen concentration is important to limit excessive perioperative blood loss. This article considers the evidence for this statement, and questions the justification for using cryoprecipitate rather than virus-inactivated fibrinogen concentrate to support plasma fibrinogen levels. Haemophilia was historically treated with cryoprecipitate, but specific coagulation factor concentrates are now preferred. In contrast, primary fractions of allogeneic donor blood, including cryoprecipitate, are still commonly used to treat perioperative bleeding. When compared with cryoprecipitate and fresh-frozen plasma (FFP), freeze-dried fibrinogen concentrate offers standardized fibrinogen content, faster reconstitution and improved efficacy. Pasteurization and purification processes employed in the preparation of fibrinogen concentrate reduce the risk of pathogen transmission and immune-mediated complications, in comparison with cryoprecipitate and FFP. When all costs associated with administration are taken into consideration, the cost of fibrinogen concentrate is not substantially different to that of cryoprecipitate. In conclusion, wider availability and use of fibrinogen concentrate may improve the management of perioperative bleeding. Further benefits may accrue from more rapid and accurate techniques for monitoring fibrinogen levels. Clinical studies are needed to evaluate methods of measuring fibrinogen and assessing fibrin polymerization, and to define critical haemostatic plasma fibrinogen concentrations in different perioperative situations.