PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to assess the clinical outcomes of pelvic exenteration for patients with primary locally advanced colorectal cancer (LACRC) or locally recurrent colorectal cancer (LRCRC), and to identify clinically relevant prognostic factors. METHODS: Between January 2001 and December 2010, 40 consecutive patients with primary LACRC or LRCRC underwent pelvic exenteration at the National Cancer Center, Republic of Korea. We retrospectively reviewed their medical records. RESULTS: The median age was 59 years and the median follow-up time was 26 months (range, 1-117 months). The overall complication and in-hospital mortality rates were 70% (28/40) and 7.5% (3/40), respectively. The complication rates were similar between patients with primary LACRC (69.6%) and those with LRCRC (70.6%). The overall recurrence rate was 50% (17/34), and was lower in patients with primary LACRC than in patients with LRCRC (33.3% vs. 76.9%, P = 0.032). The 5-year overall survival was significantly different between primary LACRC and patients with LRCRC (58.7% vs. 11.8%, P = 0.022). Multivariate analysis revealed that radicality (R0 vs. R1/R2) was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival (P = 0.020). CONCLUSION: The complication and operative mortality rates of pelvic exenteration remained high, but pelvic exenteration might provide an opportunity for long-term survival and good local control. Complete (R0) resection was the only independent prognostic factor for overall survival.