This study examined surgery for colorectal cancer among Medicare beneficiaries 65 years of age or older with an initial diagnosis in 1987 (n = 81 579). Black patients were less likely than White to undergo surgical resection (68% vs 78%), even after age, comorbidity, and location and extent of tumor were controlled for. Among those who underwent resection, Black patients were more likely to die (a 2-year mortality rate of 40.0% vs 33.5% in White patients); this disparity also remained after confounders had been controlled. The disparities were similar in teaching and nonteaching hospitals and in private and public hospitals. These data may indicate racially based differences among Medicare beneficiaries in access to and quality of care for colorectal cancer.