Introduction: There has been growing interest in addressing the surgical disease burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Assessing the current state of global surgery research activity is an important step in identifying gaps in knowledge and directing research efforts towards important unaddressed issues. The aim of this bibliometric analysis was to identify trends in the publication of global surgical research over the last 30 years. Methods: Scopus® was searched for global surgical publications (1987-2017). Results were hand-screened and data collected for included articles. Bibliometric data were extracted from Scopus® and Journal Citation Reports. Country-level economic and population data were obtained from the World Bank. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise data and identify significant trends. Results: A total of 1,623 articles were identified. The volume of scientific production on global surgery increased from 14 publications in 1987 to 149 in 2017. Similarly, the number of articles published open access increased from four in 1987 to 68 in 2017. Observational studies accounted for 88.7% of the included studies. The three most common specialties were obstetrics and gynaecology 260 (16.0%), general surgery 256 (15.8%) and paediatric surgery 196 (12.1%). Over two times as many authors were affiliated to an LMIC institution than to a high-income country (HIC) institution (6628, 71.5% vs 2481, 28.5%, P<0.001). 965 studies (59.5%) were conducted entirely by LMIC authors, 534 (32.9%) by collaborations between HICs and LMICs. Conclusion: The quantity of research in global surgery has substantially increased over the past 30 years. Authors from LMICs seemed the most proactive in addressing the global surgical disease burden. Increasing the funding for interventional studies, and therefore the quality of evidence in surgery, has the potential for greater impact for patients in LMICs.