Aim: Compare ablation versus partial nephrectomy (PN) in T1A renal cell carcinoma (RCC) treatment, using the SEER database. Methods: Patients with diagnosed T1A RCC from 2004 to 2013 were identified. Propensity matching paired subjects with similar background variables. Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazards regression were performed before and after matching. Results: Cohort included 4592 patients (809 ablation, 3783 PN). PN compared with ablation group had significantly increased overall survival (OS; 93.6% vs 81.9% 5-year survival; p < 0.0001) and cancer-specific survival (CSS; p < 0.0001). After matching (1222 pairs), PN group had significantly increased OS (91.0% vs 86.3% 5-year survival; p = 0.0457) but similar CSS (p = 0.4023). Conclusion: Ablation offers similar CSS but lower OS as PN for T1A RCC in this SEER database.