OBJECTIVE Although pre-operative chemoradiation therapy for advanced lower rectal cancer is a controversial treatment modality, it is increasingly used in combination with surgery. Few studies have considered the combination of chemoradiation therapy followed by laparoscopic surgery for locally advanced lower rectal cancer; therefore, this study aimed to assess the usefulness of this therapeutic combination. METHODS We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients with locally advanced lower rectal cancer treated by pre-operative chemoradiation therapy and surgery from February 2002 to November 2012 at Oita University. We divided patients into an open surgery group and a laparoscopic surgery group and evaluated various parameters by univariate and multivariate analyses. RESULTS In total, 33 patients were enrolled (open surgery group, n = 14; laparoscopic surgery group, n = 19). Univariate analysis revealed that compared with the open surgery group, operative time was significantly longer, whereas intra--operative blood loss and intra-operative blood transfusion requirements were significantly less in the laparoscopic surgery group. There were no significant differences in post-operative complication and recurrence rates between the two groups. According to multivariate analysis, operative time and intra-operative blood loss were significant predictors of outcome in the laparoscopic surgery group. CONCLUSIONS This study suggests that laparoscopic surgery after chemoradiation therapy for locally advanced lower rectal cancer is a safe procedure. Further prospective investigation of the long-term oncological outcomes of laparoscopic surgery after chemoradiation therapy for locally advanced lower rectal cancer is required to confirm the advantages of laparoscopic surgery over open surgery.