A surgical stapling instrument for performing a circular anastomosis stapling operation is provided. The surgical instrument includes a stapling head assembly mounted by a curved shaft to an actuator handle assembly and incorporates an improved actuator mechanism for transmitting the required operating forces and movements from the actuator handle assembly through the curved shaft to an anvil and staple driver of the stapling head assembly. The stapling head assembly includes a longitudinally movable trocar detachably secured by one or more retainer clips on a hollow shaft of the anvil. When the trocar is retracted, the anvil shaft slides into a central support tube which aligns the anvil axially and circumferentially with a staple holder on the stapling head assembly. The retainer clips are locked against the trocar by the support tube and transmit tension from the trocar to the anvil with no tension load on the anvil shaft. The actuator mechanism permits adjustment of the anvil gap to produce a desired staple height and precludes actuation of the staple head assembly if the anvil gap is set outside of a predetermined range. Also, the actuator mechanism is adapted to both advance and retract the staple driver relative to the staple holder in the stapling head assembly. Further, an improved arrangement for attaching the support shaft to the stapling head assembly and to the actuator handle assembly is provided.