Open resection remains the standard of care in the surgical management of rectal cancer with recent studies unable to prove noninferiority of laparoscopic resection. Few studies directly compare robotic versus open techniques. This is a retrospective chart review of all consecutive patients undergoing robotic or open rectal cancer resection during a three-year period. The primary endpoint was a composite of complete mesorectal excision, circumferential resection margin <1 mm, and distal resection margin <1 mm. The study cohort included 64 patients undergoing robotic (n = 28) or open (n = 36) resection. Successful surgical resection was similar between the robotic (75%) and open (76%) approaches. Robotic resection was associated with significantly lower blood loss (P = 0.02) and significantly longer operative times (P = 0.009) compared with open resection. Length of hospital stay and complications were similar between groups. Both male gender (P = 0.03) and shorter tumor distance from the anal verge (P = 0.01) were predictors for unsuccessful surgical resection in open, but not robotic, surgery. Pathologic outcomes are similar between robotic and open rectal cancer resection, even early in the learning curve. Tumor distance from the anal verge complicates open total mesorectal excision; however, robotic surgery is less impacted. Robotic resection may be a promising minimally invasive approach for rectal cancer resection.