Purpose. Short hospital stay and equal or reduced complication rates have been demonstrated after fast track open colonic surgery. However, fast track principles of perioperative care can be difficult to implement and often require increased nursing staff because of more concentrated nursing tasks during the shorter hospital stay. Specific data on nursing requirements after laparoscopic surgery are lacking. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effect of operative technique (open versus laparoscopic operation), but without changing nurse staffing or principles for peri- or postoperative care, that is, without implementing fast track principles, on length of stay after colorectal resection for cancer. Methods. Records of all patients operated for colorectal cancer from November 2004 to December 2008 in our department were reviewed. No specific patients were selected for laparoscopic repair, which was solely dependent on the presence of two specific surgeons at the same time. Thus, the patients were not selected for laparoscopic repair based on patient-related factors, but only on the simultaneous presence of two specific surgeons on the day of the operation. Results. Of a total of 540 included patients, 213 (39%) were operated by a laparoscopic approach. The median hospital stay for patients with a primary anastomosis was significantly shorter after laparoscopic than after conventional open surgery (5 versus 8 days, P <0.001) while there was no difference in patients receiving a stoma (10 versus 10 days, ns), with no changes in the perioperative care regimens. Furthermore there were significant lower blood loss (50 versus 200 mL, P <0.001) and lower complication rate (21% versus 32%, P = 0.006) in the laparoscopic group. Conclusion. Implementing laparoscopic colorectal surgery in our department resulted in shorter hospital stay without using fast track principles for peri- and postoperative care in patients not receiving a stoma during the operation. Consequently, we aimed to reduce hospitalisation without increasing cost in nursing staff per hospital bed. Length of stay was not reduced in patients receiving a stoma pointing at this group for specific intervention in the future. Furthermore, the complication rate was reduced in the laparoscopic group.