The majority of malignant and benign strictures in the esophagus and GI tract can be treated with use of minimally invasive alternatives to surgery such as balloon dilation or metallic stents. Virtually any obstructing lesion in the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, and rectum can be treated with these methods with use of interventional radiologic or endoscopic techniques. In general, metallic stents are reserved for malignant strictures and balloon dilation is indicated for benign lesions. Patients with malignant esophageal fistulas and perforations can be palliated effectively and promptly by sealing the fistula or leak by deployment of a covered stent. Patients with malignant disease may benefit from a treatment regime that includes metallic stent placement, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or brachytherapy, although the efficacy of such combined therapies has yet to be defined. Further refinements to stent design are required. The ideal stent would be resistant to tumor ingrowth and migration. Placing a coating material on uncovered stents to prevent tumor ingrowth may achieve these aims. Finally, a biodegradable stent that dissolves before the development of intimal hyperplasia might enable stents to be used to treat benign strictures.