We sought to compare perioperative and short-term outcomes of laparoscopic partial nephrectomy versus laparoscopic cryoablation in patients with peripheral small renal tumors. Prospectively accrued data of patients with a small renal tumor (< or = 3 cm) undergoing laparoscopic partial nephrectomy (group 1, n = 153) or laparoscopic cryoablation (group 2, n = 78) were compared retrospectively. Patients undergoing laparoscopic partial nephrectomy were younger (mean age, 60.6 vs 65.6 years; P = 0.005), healthier (American Society of Anesthesiologists class 3/4 present in 46% vs 75%; P = 0.001), had a lower baseline serum creatinine (90.1 vs 106.0 micromol/L [1.02 vs 1.2 mg/dL]; P = 0.01), a larger tumor size (2.3 vs 2.1 cm; P = 0.02), and fewer cases of solitary kidneys (5% vs 23%; P = 0.000). Laparoscopic partial nephrectomy was associated with greater blood loss (211 vs 101 mL; P = 0.000) and a higher incidence of delayed complications after hospital discharge (16.3% vs 2.2%; P = 0.01) compared with cryoablation. Both groups were comparable with regard to operative time (P = 0.77), intraoperative complications (P = 0.1), postoperative complications (P = 0.55), hospital stay (P = 0.13), convalescence (P = 0.96), and postoperative serum creatinine (112.2 vs 123.7 micromol/L [1.27 vs 1.4 mg/dL]; P = 0.31). Local recurrence was detected over a mean follow-up time of 5.8 months in group 1 (0.6%) and 24.6 months in group 2 (3%). Although the technical simplicity, decreased blood loss, and somewhat lower complication rate are attractive features of renal cryotherapy, this must be balanced against the current lack of long-term follow-up data that are needed to confirm the oncologic adequacy of this developmental procedure. Laparoscopic partial nephrectomy, albeit a technically advanced procedure, duplicates established open principles and has therefore evolved to become our current minimally invasive nephron-sparing procedure of choice in the majority of patients with a small renal tumor.