Fifty-six patients with penetrating colon injuries were entered into a randomized prospective study. Management of the colon injury was not dependent on the number of associated injuries, amount of fecal contamination, shock, or blood requirements. Twenty-eight patients were treated with primary repair or resection and anastomosis and 28 patients were treated by diversion (24 colostomy, 3 ileostomy, 1 jejunostomy). The average Penetrating Abdominal Trauma Index score was 23.9 for the diversion group and 26 for the primary repair group. There were five (17.9%) septic-related complications in the diversion group. This included four intra-abdominal abscesses and one subcutaneous wound infection. There were six (21.4%) septic-related complications in the primary repair group. This included one wound infection, two positive blood cultures, and three intra-abdominal abscesses. There were no episodes of suture line failure in the primary repair/anastomosis group. The authors conclude that, independent of associated risk factors, primary repair or resection and anastomosis should be considered for treatment of all patients in the civilian population with penetrating colon wounds.