In this study, the authors examine midterm survival and recurrence after laparoscopic and open surgery for rectal cancer. This is a retrospective review of a prospective database for rectal cancer surgeries performed at the authors’ institution, with follow-up data obtained through chart review. In all, 74 patients in this study had open surgery, and 93 had laparoscopic surgery. The 5-year overall survival was 73.6% ± 12.0% in the open group and 80.0% ± 12.8% in the laparoscopic group ( P = .159). Disease-free survival at 5 years was better in the laparoscopic group (71.0% ± 13.4%) than in the open group (50.3% ± 12.7%), with a P value of .01. Laparoscopic surgery remained an independent predictor of disease-free survival in the multivariate analysis. Results of prospective randomized trials are awaited, and the authors expect that the laparoscopic approach will be shown to be a safe and effective option for the management of rectal cancer.