Hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery is considered to provide the benefits of laparoscopic surgery in various diseases. However, limited information is available regarding the feasibility of hand-assisted laparoscopic distal gastrectomy (HALDG)-a subset of hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery-as a gastric cancer treatment. This study aimed to evaluate the usefulness of HALDG compared with laparoscopy-assisted distal gastrectomy (LADG). Consecutive patients who underwent HALDG (n=58) or LADG (n=90) for stage I gastric cancer between 2005 and 2016 were eligible. Operative time was significantly shorter and blood loss was significantly higher in HALDG than in LADG (P<0.001, both). Postoperative aminotransferase levels were significantly lower in HALDG than in LADG (P<0.001). There was no significant difference in perioperative complications, a number of analgesics, postoperative C-reactive protein levels, and 3-year relapse-free and overall survival rates between the groups. This study suggests that HALDG is a safe and feasible approach and could become an effective option for stage I gastric cancer treatment.