OBJECTIVE To investigate the application experience and clinical effects of hand-assisted laparoscopic radical resection for rectal cancer. METHODS The clinical data of 156 patients with rectal cancer treated with hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery between August 2009 and April 2011 were analyzed retrospectively. RESULTS The operative procedures of 156 patients were completed successfully and 1 case was converted to laparotomy (0.6%). The mean operation time was (125 ± 35) minutes; the mean intraoperative blood loss was (118 ± 60) ml; the mean time of bowel function recovery was (60 ± 8) hours; the median postoperative hospital stay was (9.5 ± 2.2) days. The mean number of lymph nodes dissection was (14 ± 5). Five patients (3.2%) had postoperative complications. All the patients were followed up. There had been no local recurrence or trocar site implantation metastasis. CONCLUSION Hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery approach for the curative resection of rectal cancer is safe and effective and has broad prospects in clinical application.