Background. The aim of our study was to analyse data of patients treated by salvage surgery for locally recurrent rectal cancer, with emphasis on the question whether salvage surgery is still worthwhile when adjuvant radiotherapy is no longer a treatment option. Methods. Forty patients (19 males/21 females) treated by surgery with curative intent for locally recurrent rectal carcinoma were analysed. Local recurrence was defined as cancer recurrence within the lower pelvis. Salvage surgery included abdominoperineal resection, abdominosacral resection, exenteration (posterior or total) and local resection. Clinical and pathological factors were analysed to identify prognostic factors for survival. Results. The median overall survival was 25 months (95% CI: 13-37 months) and 5-year survival was 28% (95% CI: 12-45%). The absence of symptoms at the time of recurrence, central localisation and the absence of microscopic involvement of surgical margins, but not additional radiotherapy, were found to be significant independent prognostic factors for better survival after salvage surgery. Conclusion. Salvage surgery, alone or in combination with radiotherapy, can achieve radical resection of locally recurrent rectal cancer and can result in long-term survival.