In an attempt to identify those patients who would benefit from palliative resection of the colon or rectum and those who would not, an analysis of ten years of resections was undertaken. For the 81 patients who underwent palliative resection, the operative mortality was 10 per cent and the postoperative morbidity was 50 per cent. The mean survival was 11.4 months and the median survival nine months. Poor prognostic factors deduced were patients with extensive liver metastases, those over the age of 75 years, and a previous history of cardiovascular disease. It is believed that patients with a combination of these factors may not benefit from palliative resection. Otherwise, resections satisfactorily relieve patients of the symptoms of impending obstruction and rectal bleeding and are, therefore, believed to be worthwhile.