Extrinsic compression, neoplastic involvement of the trachea or left main bronchus, and esophago-airway fistula may cause airway obstruction and infection in patients with esophageal carcinoma. Further reduction of airway lumen may result from palliative treatment of dysphagia by radiation or esophageal stent insertion. In order to evaluate the extent of airway compromise, bronchoscopy was systematically performed in 39 consecutive patients with advanced carcinoma of the esophagus requiring esophageal endoprostheses. Airway obstruction observed in 10 patients (mean age, 60 years) resulted in the additional placement of a silicone stent in the trachea (five patients) or left main bronchus (five patients). Esophageal and airway procedures were performed under general anesthesia. All had squamous cell carcinoma of the middle third of the esophagus. Severe dyspnea at rest was documented in five patients prior to intervention. Esophago-tracheal fistula was present in five. Eight patients with associated, neoplastic invasion of the tracheo-bronchial tree required airway Nd:YAG laser therapy. The esophageal prosthesis contributed significantly to airway compromise in four patients. Symptomatic relief of dysphagia and dyspnea was obtained in all individuals. Mean survival was 121 days (range, 12 to 350 days). Complications were not serious, but included esophageal or tracheal stent migration in three patients.