Abstract Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO) is a rare pathological condition characterized by a marked derangement of gut propulsive motility mimicking mechanical obstruction, in the absence of any lesion occluding the gut lumen. This disease is often associated with a disabling and potentially life-threatening complications and is still too often unrecognized even in referral centres. As a result, patients receive neither appropriate care nor recognition of their severe health condition. Medical and surgical therapies are often unsatisfactory and long-term outcome turns out to be poor in the vast majority of cases. This article focuses on the main clinical features, the management and long-term outcome of patients affected by CIPO, with particular emphasis on those aspects which remain a matter of debate.