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To evaluate the current place of laparoscopy in the management of colorectal disease.A literature search was undertaken on Medline between the period 1991 and 2002.From the literature there is good evidence that the laparoscopic approach is associated with at least some short-term advantages. Improved cosmesis and better patient's satisfaction are also evident. Because of this laparoscopy has been widely employed in various benign conditions. Among others, laparoscopic stoma formation, laparoscopic resection for diverticular disease and Crohn's disease, laparoscopic rectopexy, as well as laparoscopic assisted reversal of Hartmann's procedure were commonly reported. As port site recurrence and oncological safety are of less concern, there have been increasing reports on laparoscopic resection for colorectal cancer. Although long-term follow up data is still limited, results of large prospective studies as well as various randomized trials show that recurrence and survival rates of the laparoscopic approach were at least comparable to open surgery. As experience and confidence accumulates, there are also increasing reports on technically demanding, laparoscopic sphincter-saving rectal excision. Articles on functional aspects following this type of resection also start to appear, which might be one of the future directions.The applicability of laparoscopy to colorectal disease continues to expand. Laparoscopic approach should be considered for patients with benign conditions. For colorectal cancer, results from randomized trials so far have been favourable. Hence, the authors suggest the utility of laparoscopy in potentially curable cancer can also be judiciously relaxed.