The study goal was to analyze outcome after distal pancreatectomy for three subtypes of adenocarcinoma to determine the role of en bloc resection in surgical management. A secondary aim was to identify those clinicopathologic factors correlating with survival in an analysis limited to ductal adenocarcinoma. Medical records of consecutive patients undergoing distal pancreatectomy for adenocarcinoma between 1987 and 2003 were reviewed. A comparative analysis was undertaken of the safety and outcome of patients undergoing standard and en bloc resections. Clinicopathologic factors for patients undergoing distal pancreatectomy for ductal adenocarcinoma were subjected to both univariate and multivariate survival analyses. Ninety-three patients underwent resection for ductal adenocarcinoma (66, 71%), mucinous cystadenocarcinoma (18, 19%), or adenocarcinoma associated with intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) (9, 10%). En bloc resection was required in 33 (35%) patients. There was no operative mortality. Median survival was 15.5 months, 30.2 months, and 50.7 months for ductal adenocarcinoma, mucinous cystadenocarcinoma, and adenocarcinoma associated with IPMN, respectively. Patients undergoing en bloc resection had a higher overall complication rate, required more transfusions and more intensive care unit admissions, and had a higher rate of positive margins; however, there were no deaths. For ductal adenocarcinoma, tumor size greater than 3.5 cm, age greater than 60 years, and stage were factors that correlated with survival on a univariate analysis. None were significant on multivariate analysis. Four patients with ductal adenocarcinoma were actual 5-year survivors. While en bloc resections are associated with a higher rate of complications, the majority are self-limited and mortality is low. Resection, including adjacent organs, should be performed when appropriate. Long-term survival for patients with cystadenocarcinoma or IPMN-associated adenocarcinoma can be anticipated. While rare, long-term survival for patients with ductal adenocarcinoma after distal pancreatectomy can be achieved. © 2005 The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract.