Minimally invasive approaches to esophageal resection have been shown to be feasible and safe, with outcomes similar to open esophagectomy. There are no controlled trials comparing the outcomes of minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) with open techniques, just a few comparative studies and many single institution series from which assessment of MIE and its present role have been made. The reported improvements from MIE approaches include reduced blood loss, time in intensive care and time in hospital. In comparative studies there is no clear reduction in respiratory complications, although larger series suggest there may be a benefit from MIE. Although MIE approaches report less lymph node retrieval compared with open extended lymphadenectomy, MIE cancer outcomes are comparable with open surgery. MIE will be a major component of the future esophageal surgeons armamentarium, but should continue to be carefully assessed. There is a role for multicentered studies to prospectively audit outcomes. Large numbers of patients would be required to perform randomized trials of MIE versus open resection.