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It factors in to getting high search results, but it is only part of the recipe for Google special sauce. Of course, Google keeps that recipe secret, so much of what we think matters and how much is only a guess. I read once that Google made nearly 500 changes to its search algorithms in one year, so the target is always moving.
As Google puts it, PageRank is how "important" they think a website is. I read Larry Page referred to it as counting votes. Much of the formula is based on links to your content ("votes"), which it why you see spammers trying to get link-backs on highly ranked sites. The irony is that if they were successful in getting their links left up, it would probably lower the value of those links due to excessive numbers of them.
I think it is fair to say that a high PageRank doesn't ensure that you will have top search results, there is definitely a relationship. Whether that is because sites with high PageRank tend to have better SEO and higher quality content or because of PageRank's impact on search results is speculative. Look at IT World - it has a high PageRank, but it also constantly has fresh, high quality content. So which comes first, the chicken or the egg?