In this study, we analyzed the Norwegian guidelines for systematic follow-up after curative colorectal cancer surgery in a large single institution. Three hundred fourteen consecutive unselected patients undergoing curative surgery for colorectal cancer between 1996 and 1999 were studied with regard to asymptomatic curable recurrence, compliance with the program, and cost. Follow-up included carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) interval measurements, colonoscopy, ultrasonography of the liver, and radiography of the chest. In 194 (62%) of the patients, follow-up was conducted according to the Norwegian guidelines. Twenty-one patients (11%) were operated on for curable recurrence, and 18 patients (9%) were disease free after curative surgery for recurrence at evaluation. Four metachronous tumors (2%) were found. CEA interval measurement had to be made most frequently (534 tests needed) to detect one asymptomatic curable recurrence. Follow-up program did not influence cancer-specific survival. Overall compliance with the surveillance program was 66%, being lowest for colonoscopy (55%) and highest for ultrasonography of the liver (85%). The total program cost was 228,117 euro (US 280,994 dollars), translating into 20,530 euro (US 25,289 dollars) for one surviving patient after surgery for recurrence. The total diagnosis yield with regard to disease-free survival after surgery for recurrence was 9%. Compliance was moderate. Whether the continuing implementation of such program and cost are justified should be debated.