Radical cystectomy with pelvic lymph node dissection remains the standard treatment for patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer. Despite improvements in surgical technique, anesthesia and perioperative care, radical cystectomy is still associated with greater morbidity and prolonged in-patient stay after surgery than other urological procedures. Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols are multimodal perioperative care pathways designed to achieve early recovery after surgical procedures by maintaining preoperative organ function and reducing the profound stress response following surgery. The key elements of ERAS protocols include preoperative counselling, optimization of nutrition, standardized analgesic and anesthetic regimens and early mobilization. Despite the significant body of evidence indicating that ERAS protocols lead to improved outcomes, they challenge traditional surgical doctrine, and as a result their implementation has been slow.The present article discusses particular aspects of ERAS protocols which represent fundamental shifts in surgical practice, including perioperative nutrition, management of postoperative ileus and the use of mechanical bowel preparation.