BACKGROUND: Creating a defunctioning stoma for anorectal disease in patients in whom no resection or anastomosis is required appears eminently suited for laparoscopic techniques, with the intended advantages of early recovery, reduced pain, and avoidance of a laparotomy. OBJECTIVES: The study contained herein was undertaken to determine the feasibility of laparoscopic defunctioning stoma formation using a three-port technique (including one at the stoma site) and to compare initial results with a historical control group. METHODS: Duration of operation (anesthetic plus surgery), the time to tolerance of a liquid and then a solid diet, time to passage of flatus and feces, patient morphine requirements in the first 48 hours, and day of discharge were documented. RESULTS: Nineteen laparoscopic stomas were attempted (3 converted to open) and 23 open stomas were formed in the control group. The laparoscopic stoma group had lower morphine requirements (mean, 47.7 vs. 89.9 mg; P < 0.01), an earlier tolerance of both liquid (mean, 2.1 vs. 3.7 days; P < 0.01) and solid diets (mean, 3.6 vs. 5.5 days; P < 0.001), and an earlier time to passage of both flatus (mean, 2.2 vs. 3.6 days; P < 0.001) and feces (mean, 3.7 vs. 5.6 days; P < 0.001). Operating time was longer for the laparoscopic group (mean, 176 vs. 104 minutes; P < 0.001), whereas median time to discharge from hospital was shorter (median, 8 vs. 11 days; P = 0.014). Postoperative 30-day morbidity occurred in 1 of 19 laparoscopic group patients and 4 of 23 open group patients. CONCLUSIONS: In this select group of patients requiring defunctioning stoma only, laparoscopic surgery is feasible and safe and may have advantages over open procedures of less pain, earlier tolerance of diet, earlier return of bowel function, and a shorter median length of stay.