Incisional hernias and abdominal-wall defects consume large amounts of healthcare resources. Use of mesh is effective in treatment of these disorders and can decrease the rate of recurrence. This experimental study focused on the safety of mesh use in the setting of malnutrition, a condition that impairs wound healing. Rats were divided into two groups: normally fed and food-restricted. An abdominal-wall defect, 2 by 2 cm, was covered with polypropylene mesh, 2.5 by 2.5 cm. After sacrifice of the rats at the 21st and 60th days, tissue samples were sent for tensiometric and histopathological studies. No significant difference in infectious complications was observed between the two groups. Tensiometry revealed no significant differences between the groups. On histopathological examination, the only difference noted was in the vascularization scores of normally fed rats. For malnourished subjects that survived after surgery, the use of polypropylene mesh appeared safe in the closure of abdominal-wall defects, with no increase in infection rate and satisfactory wound healing.