Despite widespread use of laparoscopic surgery for colorectal operations, its application for curative resection of colorectal cancer is still controversial. One of the major concerns is the impact of the laparoscopic procedure on dissemination of tumor cells. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of laparoscopic surgery on circulating tumor cells in colorectal cancer patients. Quantitation of circulating free tumor cells (FTCs) was performed preoperatively, during the operation, and 14 days later by means of real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) targeting guanylyl cyclase C (GCC) mRNA in 42 colorectal cancer patients undergoing laparoscopic resections. Despite an increasing trend of FTC detection in patients with advancing stage, there is no significant difference in the preoperative FTC level by disease stage. No elevation in FTC level was found during the laparoscopic procedure in most patients compared with their preoperative FTC value. Patients with a persistently high FTC load [per nucleated blood cells (NBCs)] (> 102 FTCs/106 NBCs) 2 weeks postoperatively portends a poor prognosis regarding disease recurrence and tumor-related mortality when compared to those with an undetectable or low ETC load (≤ 102 FTCs/ 106 NBCs). We concluded that the laparoscopic procedure itself had no significantly deleterious effect on circulating FTCs FrCs and that the detection of FTCs by real-time qRT-PCR might be of clinical importance during the postoperative follow-up for colorectal cancer patients.