Background: End colostomy rates following colorectal resection vary across institutions in high-income settings, being influenced by patient, disease, surgeon and system factors. This study aimed to assess global variation in end colostomy rates after left-sided colorectal resection. Methods: This study comprised an analysis of GlobalSurg-1 and-2 international, prospective, observational cohort studies (2014, 2016), including consecutive adult patients undergoing elective or emergency left-sided colorectal resection within discrete 2-week windows. Countries were grouped into high-, middle-and low-income tertiles according to the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI). Factors associated with colostomy formation versus primary anastomosis were explored using a multilevel, multivariable logistic regression model. Results: In total, 1635 patients from 242 hospitals in 57 countries undergoing left-sided colorectal resection were included: 113 (6·9 per cent) from low-HDI, 254 (15·5 per cent) from middle-HDI and 1268 (77·6 percent) from high-HDI countries. There was a higher proportion of patients with perforated disease (57·5, 40·9 and 35·4 per cent; P < 0·001) and subsequent use of end colostomy (52·2, 24·8 and 18·9 per cent; P < 0·001) in low-compared with middle-and high-HDI settings. The association with colostomy use in low-HDI settings persisted (odds ratio (OR) 3·20, 95 per cent c.i. 1·35 to 7·57; P = 0·008) after risk adjustment for malignant disease (OR 2·34, 1·65 to 3·32; P < 0·001), emergency surgery (OR 4·08, 2·73 to 6·10; P < 0·001), time to operation at least 48 h (OR 1·99, 1·28 to 3·09; P = 0·002) and disease perforation (OR 4·00, 2·81 to 5·69; P < 0·001). Conclusion: Global differences existed in the proportion of patients receiving end stomas after left-sided colorectal resection based on income, which went beyond case mix alone.