Current understanding of the routes of spread of rectal cancer along with technical innovations such as the circular stapler have allowed surgeons to treat most rectal cancers with an anterior resection and low anastomosis. Appropriate use of local therapy options has further decreased the need for abdominoperineal resection (APR). Nonetheless, APR remains the procedure of choice for many distal rectal adenocarcinomas. Numerous factors influence the decision to perform an APR and are discussed in detail. Although mortality for APR has been reduced significantly, morbidity remains high. Specific complications commonly seen after APR are discussed. Operative technique is outlined since much of the specific morbidity of APR can be reduced by attention to detail in the conduct of this complex procedure.