Transanal minimally invasive surgery (TAMIS) was introduced as an alternative to transanal endoscopic microsurgery in 2010. Over the past 4 years, considerable international experience has been gained with this approach. Most published reports focus on TAMIS for local excision of rectal neoplasia, but there are other important applications such as transanal mesorectal excision for rectal cancer. This comprehensive review details the progress with TAMIS since its inception. Robotic transanal surgery is a natural evolution of TAMIS still in its early infancy, which is also reviewed. A comprehensive search of PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and Web of Knowledge was performed. Since the inception of TAMIS in 2009, 33 retrospective studies and case reports, and 3 abstracts have been published on TAMIS for local excision of rectal neoplasms, which represents a combined n = 390 TAMIS procedures performed worldwide using eight different types of TAMIS platforms. A total of 152 lesions were excised for benign disease including adenomas and high-grade dysplasias (39 %), 209 for malignancy for carcinomas in situ and adenocarcinomas (53.5 %). Twenty-nine (7.5 %) of TAMIS resections were for other pathology, of which the majority (23/29) were neuroendocrine lesions. The remaining resections were for mucocele, gastrointestinal stromal tumor, melanoma, and fibrosis. Robotic-TAMIS has also been reported, however, data are extremely limited as there are only 7 case reports (combined n = 11) in the published literature. Success with Robotic-TAMIS has been demonstrated with various patient positions and by use of a special glove port. Transanal total mesorectal excision using the TAMIS platform has also been demonstrated is several small series, and the feasibility of performing pure transanal total mesorectal excision has also been reported. Combined, n = 78 cases of transanal total mesorectal excision have been performed using TAMIS. The advantages of TAMIS-assisted transanal total mesorectal excision are discussed.