INTRODUCTION: Patients with a cloacal malformation generally undergo reconstructive surgery within the first years of life. However, the ideal age for surgery has rarely been mentioned. The aim of this study was to report differences in outcome between early (<6 months) and late repair of cloacal malformations. METHODS: Charts of patients with a cloacal malformation treated in 5 pediatric surgical centers between 1985 and 2009 were retrospectively studied for associated anomalies, postoperative complications, and colorectal and urological outcome. RESULTS: Forty-two patients were eligible for this study, giving a mean exposure of less than 1 patient yearly per center. Forty-five percent of the patients had a short common channel (>3 cm), and 14% had a long common channel. Length of common channel was missing in 41% of the patients. Median age of the cloacal reconstruction was 9 months (range 1-121 months). Twelve patients (29%) underwent an early surgical repair (within the first 6 months of age; median 3 months), and 30 (71%) patients underwent a late repair (after 6 months of age; median 14 months). Eighteen postoperative complications (<30 days) had been documented in 15 patients (35%), with significant more perineal wound dehiscences in patients with an early repair (42% vs. 10%, p=0.031). There were no differences in complication rate between patients with short and long common channels. Mean follow-up was 142 months (range 15-289). At the last follow-up, 10 patients (24%) had voluntary bowel movements. Fourteen patients (33%) had complaints of soiling, 25 (60%) were constipated, with no differences between the early and late repair groups. Patients in the late repair group as well as the group of patients with a short common channel were more frequently able to void spontaneously. CONCLUSIONS: Postoperative complications are common in patients with cloacal malformations. Early repair is associated with more wound dehiscences, however, without affecting long-term functional outcome. All centers had limited annual exposure of less than 1 patient. In these clinical settings, ideal age of cloacal reconstruction seems to be between 6 and 12 months. In general, centralized care for these complex malformations may be the crucial factor for reducing postoperative complications and better long-term outcome.