The relationship between preoperative prealbumin and cancer survival has not been fully elucidated. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between preoperative nutritional conditions, including prealbumin and albumin concentrations, and the risk of recurrence in cases with operable colorectal carcinoma. One hundred fifty-eight patients who underwent elective colorectal resection were analyzed in this study. Of the eligible cases, 56 (35.4%) had decreased serum prealbumin and 15 (9.5%) had decreased serum albumin preoperatively. Among 158 cases in this study, 18 (11.4%) had disease recurrence. In the univariate analysis, the depth of tumor invasion, lymph node metastasis, lymphovascular invasion, serum albumin, prealbumin, and carcinoembryonic antigen were the factors significantly associated with disease recurrence. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that only serum albumin was a predictor of the recurrence; however, serum prealbumin lost its significance on multivariate analysis. Time to tumor recurrence by Kaplan-Meier curves significantly differed among patients with low serum albumin and prealbumin level. Our results suggest that prealbumin and albumin may be sensitive indicators of the risk of recurrent disease; however, low serum albumin levels are more useful than prealbumin in predicting short-term disease recurrence in operable colorectal cancer.