In this study, perioperative and short-term postoperative results of totally robotic versus totally laparoscopic rectal resections for cancer were investigated in a comparative manner by considering risk factors including obesity, male sex, and neoadjuvant treatment. In addition to overall comparison, the impact of sex, obesity (body mass index >= 30 kg/m(2)), and neoadjuvant treatment was assessed in patients who had a total mesorectal excision (TME). Operative time was longer in the robotic group (P<0.001). In obese patients who underwent TME, the mean length of hospital stay was shorter (7 +/- 2 vs. 9 +/- 4 d, P=0.01), and the mean number of retrieved lymph nodes was higher (30 +/- 19 vs. 23 +/- 10, P=0.02) in the robotic group. Totally robotic and totally laparoscopic surgery appears to be providing similar outcomes in patients undergoing rectal resections for cancer. Selective use of a robot may have a role for improving postoperative outcomes in some challenging cases including obese patients undergoing TME.