OBJECTIVE To investigate a single institution experience with radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP), laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP) and robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) with respect to pathological and biochemical outcomes. PATIENTS AND METHODS A group of 522 consecutive patients who underwent RARP between 2003 and 2008 were matched by propensity scoring on the basis of patient age, race, preoperative prostate-specific antigen (PSA), biopsy Gleason score and clinical stage with an equal number of patients who underwent LRP and RRP at our institution. Pathological and biochemical outcomes of the three cohorts were examined. RESULTS Overall positive surgical margin rates were lower among patients who underwent RRP (14.4%) and LRP (13.0%) compared to patients who underwent RARP (19.5%) (P= 0.010). There were no statistically significant differences in positive margin rates between the three surgical techniques for pT2 disease (P= 0.264). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, surgical technique (P= 0.016), biopsy Gleason score (P < 0.001) and preoperative PSA (P < 0.001) were predictors of positive surgical margins. Kaplan-Meier analysis did not show any statistically significant differences with respect to biochemical recurrence for the three surgical groups. CONCLUSIONS RRP, LRP and RARP represent effective surgical approaches for the treatment for clinically localized prostate cancer. A higher overall positive SM rate was observed for the RARP group compared to RRP and LRP; however, there was no difference with respect to biochemical recurrence-free survival between groups. Further prospective studies are warranted to determine whether any particular technique is superior with regard to long-term clinical outcomes. © 2010 BJU INTERNATIONAL.