Background: Total pancreatectomy is required to completely clear tumours that are locally advanced or located in the centre of the pancreas. However, reports describing clinical outcomes after total pancreatectomy are rare. The aim of this retrospective observational study was to assess clinical outcomes following total pancreatectomy using a nationwide registry and to create a risk model for severe postoperative complications. Methods: Patients who underwent total pancreatectomy from 2013 to 2017, and who were recorded in the Japan Society of Gastroenterological Surgery and Japanese Society of Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Surgery database, were included. Severe complications at 30 days were defined as those with a Clavien–Dindo grade III needing reoperation, or grade IV–V. Occurrence of severe complications was modelled using data from patients treated from 2013 to 2016, and the accuracy of the model tested among patients from 2017 using c-statistics and a calibration plot. Results: A total of 2167 patients undergoing total pancreatectomy were included. Postoperative 30-day and in-hospital mortality rates were 1·0 per cent (22 of 2167 patients) and 2·7 per cent (58 of 167) respectively, and severe complications developed in 6·0 per cent (131 of 2167). Factors showing a strong positive association with outcome in this risk model were the ASA performance status grade and combined arterial resection. In the test cohort, the c-statistic of the model was 0·70 (95 per cent c.i. 0·59 to 0·81). Conclusion: The risk model may be used to predict severe complications after total pancreatectomy.