The primary treatment for anal cancer is chemoradiation (CRT). Failures after CRT are potentially curable with an abdominoperineal resection (APR). A major problem of surgery in the anal area is poor healing of the perineal wound. Between 1985 and 2000, 129 patients treated for anal cancer were retrospectively reviewed. Of the 24 patients with local failure, 18 patients were treated with an APR. The aim of this study was to review the results and long-term outcome after salvage APR, with special emphasis on perineal wound healing. Mean age at diagnosis was 59 (range: 41-83) years. After a median of 16 months, only 2 patients developed a local recurrence. The 5-year overall survival was 30%. In 11 patients the perineal wound was closed primarily, in 3 patients the perineal wound was left open, and in 4 patients a vertical rectus abdominus musculocutaneous (VRAM) flap was used. Perineal wound breakdown occurred in 5 of the 14 patients (36%) not treated with primary muscle reconstruction. In all patients treated with a VRAM flap the perineal wound healed primarily. In the present study salvage APR in recurrent or persistent anal cancer results in good local control and 5-year overall survival of 30%. When performing an APR a VRAM flap reconstruction should be considered to prevent disabling perineal wound complications.