Of 157 patients operated upon for cancer of the rectum within the last 10 years, 44 were available for a followup study of sexual potency. After the anterior resection operation, sexual function for both men and women remained practically unchanged. Following the abdominoperineal operation, where the entire rectum was extirpated, the results differed for men and women. Sexual function in men was completely destroyed, but women were capable of continuing sexual enjoyment as before the operation. Anterior resection in both sexes, i.e., leaving 6 cm of the distal rectum, does not destroy nerve fibers or other structures vital to continuing normal sex activity. However, the abdominoperineal operation in men destroys the important parasympathetic fibers to the male genital system and renders the patient impotent. In women, the abdominoperineal operation for cancer spares most of the nerve supply, especially the important pudendal nerve, thus permitting the patient to continue sexual activity as before surgery. Images Fig. 1. Fig. 2. Fig. 3.