BACKGROUND: Liver resection is a possibly curative treatment for colorectal cancer (CRC) liver metastases. Preoperative chemotherapy may make initially irresectable tumors resectable. The aim of this study was to compare perioperative course and short-term mortality after liver resection for CRC metastases between patients who were and were not treated with preoperative chemotherapy. METHODS: Patients who had undergone liver resection for CRC metastases were included. A total of 97 patients treated with preoperative chemotherapy (group A) were compared with 136 who were not (group B). Intraoperative bleeding, operating time, complications, duration of stay, and mortality were compared using Pearson's χ(2) test, Fisher's exact test, and the Mann-Whitney U-test. RESULTS: Mean intraoperative bleeding, duration of stay, and operating time were not significantly different. Complications occurred in 62.9% and 63.2% in groups A and B, respectively. The 30- and 90-day mortality rates were zero in group A, comparable to 1.5% in group B. CONCLUSIONS: There were no significant differences in the perioperative course or postoperative mortality when comparing CRC patients with or without chemotherapy prior to liver resection. Consequently, this study suggests that preoperative chemotherapy before liver resection for CRC metastases does not negatively influence perioperative outcome and can therefore be applied if "downstaging" is indicated.