Background: This study aimed to determine the impact of preoperative exposure to intravenous contrast for CT and the risk of developing postoperative acute kidney injury (AKI) in patients undergoing major gastrointestinal surgery. Methods: This prospective, multicentre cohort study included adults undergoing gastrointestinal resection, stoma reversal or liver resection. Both elective and emergency procedures were included. Preoperative exposure to intravenous contrast was defined as exposure to contrast administered for the purposes of CT up to 7 days before surgery. The primary endpoint was the rate of AKI within 7 days. Propensity score-matched models were adjusted for patient, disease and operative variables. In a sensitivity analysis, a propensity score-matched model explored the association between preoperative exposure to contrast and AKI in the first 48 h after surgery. Results: A total of 5378 patients were included across 173 centres. Overall, 1249 patients (23·2 per cent) received intravenous contrast. The overall rate of AKI within 7 days of surgery was 13·4 per cent (718 of 5378). In the propensity score-matched model, preoperative exposure to contrast was not associated with AKI within 7 days (odds ratio (OR) 0·95, 95 per cent c.i. 0·73 to 1·21; P = 0·669). The sensitivity analysis showed no association between preoperative contrast administration and AKI within 48 h after operation (OR 1·09, 0·84 to 1·41; P = 0·498). Conclusion: There was no association between preoperative intravenous contrast administered for CT up to 7 days before surgery and postoperative AKI. Risk of contrast-induced nephropathy should not be used as a reason to avoid contrast-enhanced CT.