Stromal tumors of the anorectum are a rare group of mesenchymal tumors that often have a protracted clinical course. We sought to determine which clinical, morphologic, and immunophenotypic features correlated with an adverse outcome in 22 patients with anorectal stromal tumors. An adverse outcome, defined as either tumor recurrence or metastasis, occurred in nine patients. Seven patients had metastases, two of whom also had local recurrences. Four of these patients also died from their disease. One patient had one local recurrence, and one patient had two local recurrences; neither of these patients had metastases. Recurrences were found as long as 103 months and metastases as late as 117 months after initial presentation. However, for patients without an adverse outcome, maximum follow-up was only 84 months. Thus both recurrence and metastasis may not appear until several years after treatment, indicating that a long-term follow-up period, probably longer than available for many tumors without an adverse outcome in this study, is needed before a patient can be considered to be cured. Tumor size greater than five centimeters correlated with an adverse outcome. However, given the protracted course of these tumors and the relatively limited follow-up available, other features such as location within the muscularis propria, mitotic activity, necrosis, and pleomorphism that did not significantly correlate with an adverse outcome may become significant with longer follow-up periods. We also found that on the basis of morphologic appearance and whether tumors were confined to the submucosa or located within the muscularis propria, anorectal stromal tumors could be divided into three groups, and that the behavior of anorectal stromal tumors may also depend upon their phenotype. The largest group of 17 tumors was located within the muscularis propria, mitotically active, and composed of densely cellular spindle-shaped cells. A second group of two tumors was also located within the muscularis propria and was composed of spindle-shaped cells, but lacked dense cellularity and mitotic activity. The third group was composed of three submucosal, polypoid tumors.