Deaths following surgery are the third largest contributor to deaths globally, and in Africa are twice the global average. There is a need for a peri-operative research agenda to ensure co-ordinated, collaborative research efforts across Africa in order to decrease peri-operative mortality. The objective was to determine the top 10 research priorities for peri-operative research in Africa. A Delphi technique was used to establish consensus on the top research priorities. The top 10 research priorities identified were (1) Develop training standards for peri-operative healthcare providers (surgical, anaesthesia and nursing) in Africa; (2) Develop minimum provision of care standards for peri-operative healthcare providers (surgical, anaesthesia and nursing) in Africa; (3) Early identification and management of mothers at risk from peripartum haemorrhage in the peri-operative period; (4) The role of communication and teamwork between surgical, anaesthetic, nursing and other teams involved in peri-operative care; (5) A facility audit/African World Health Organization situational analysis tool audit to assess emergency and essential surgical care, which includes anaesthetic equipment available and level of training and knowledge of peri-operative healthcare providers (surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses); (6) Establishing evidence-based practice guidelines for peri-operative physicians in Africa; (7) Economic analysis of strategies to finance access to surgery in Africa; (8) Establishment of a minimum dataset surgical registry; (9) A quality improvement programme to improve implementation of the surgical safety checklist; and (10) Peri-operative outcomes associated with emergency surgery. These peri-operative research priorities provide the structure for an intermediate-term research agenda to improve peri-operative outcomes across Africa.