SUMMARY. We aim to determine the effect of splenectomy on clinical outcome in patients with cancer of the distal esophagus and gastro-esophageal junction (GEJ) after a curative intended resection. From January 1991 to July 2004, 210 patients underwent a potentially curative gastroesophageal resection with an extended nodal dissection. The study group was divided into: group I with splenectomy, consisting of 66 patients (31.4%), and group II without splenectomy, of 144 patients. Splenectomy was performed for oncological reasons. Medical records were reviewed retrospectively. Postoperative complications occurred in 27 patients (40.9%) in group I and in 68 patients (47.2%) in group II (P = 0.4). The overall mortality was not significantly different between both groups (P = 0.7). There was a higher administration of red blood cells during surgery (P ≤ 0.001), increased operating room (OR) time (P ≤ 0.001) and longer intensive care unit (ICU) stay (P = 0.01) in group I. Independent prognostic factors for survival were outcome of surgery, nodal metastases, gender, complications and ICU stay. Sepsis was a strong prognostic factor among the complications. The 1 and 2-year survival was significantly higher in group II; 75% and 67% (P = 0.032) compared to 69% and 56% (P = 0.017) in group I, respectively. However, the 5-year survival was not different in both groups (29% in group I and 60% in group II, P = 0.191). Splenectomy had no marked effect on mortality and morbidity after curative resection of esophageal cancer. Splenectomy had a significant increase in blood transfusions with prolonged OR time and ICU stay and decreased short-term survival.