Background: Colorectal mucinous adenocarcinoma (MC) has been associated with impaired prognosis compared with nonmucinous adenocarcinoma (NMC). Response to palliative chemotherapy is poor in metastatic disease, but the benefit of adjuvant chemotherapeutic treatment has never been assessed in large patient groups. This study analyses overall survival and efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy in terms of survival in patients following radical resection for MC. Patients and methods: This population-based study involved 27 251 unselected patients diagnosed with colorectal carcinoma between 1990 and 2010 and recorded in a prospective pathology-based registry. Kaplan-Meier analysis and log-rank testing were used to estimate survival. Cox proportional hazard model was used to calculate multivariate hazard ratios for death. Results: MC was found in 12.3% (N = 3052) of colorectal tumors with a different distribution compared with NMC, with 24.4% located in the rectum and 54.3% in the proximal colon (versus 38.0% and 30.6%), P < 0.0001. NMC was more often classified as stage I disease than MC (20.5% versus 10.9%), P < 0.0001. After adjustments for covariates, MC was associated with a higher risk of death only when located in the rectum [hazard ratio 1.22; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11-1.34]. Multivariate regression analysis showed a similar survival after adjuvant chemotherapy for stage III MC and NMC patients. Conclusions: The poor prognosis for MC is only present in rectal cancer. In the adjuvant setting, there is no difference in the efficacy of chemotherapy between MC and NMC; therefore, current adjuvant treatment recommendations should not take histology into account. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology All rights reserved.