Between July 1973 and October 1984, we performed proctectomy either as part of a primary proctocolectomy or as a secondary staged procedure in 388 patients with ulcerative colitis and in 39 patients with Crohn's disease. The proctectomies were performed using a two-team synchronous approach. An intersphincteric or perimuscular technique was employed. All perineal wounds were closed and drained by suction drainage and the pelvic peritoneum was closed in all cases. Two patients died in the early postoperative period, one from a pulmonary embolus and one from sepsis. Three patients had to be reexplored for postoperative hemorrhage, in all cases from a branch of the superior hemorrhoidal artery. Postoperative perineal hematoma developed in two patients and perineal abscess developed in four patients which necessitated opening of the perineal skin wound. Nonhealing of the perineal wound occurred in 3 of 388 patients with ulcerative colitis and in 5 of 39 patients with Crohn's disease. No perineal dehiscence or hernias were seen. Postoperatively, one man was permanently impotent and two had prolonged but temporary impotence. Three patients had retrograde ejaculation at last follow-up.