Many patients with various forms of cancer develop sooner or later malignant pleural effusions, resulting in feelings of discomfort and reduced quality of life. Several palliative options exist, including repeated thoracocentesis and pleurodesis with a sclerosing agent. However, these "therapeutic" possibilities are not always successful and sometimes even contraindicated. Also, patients need to visit the hospital regularly or have to stay hospitalised for several days. A chronic indwelling pleural catheter could provide a simple, completely outpatient way to provide respiratory relief and improvement in quality of life in patients with malignant pleural effusions. We evaluated retrospectively the course of 17 patients with malignant pleural effusions who were treated with a chronic indwelling pleural catheter (PleurX). Eligible patients were selected in the years 2001-2003 from a single institution. In 70-80% of patients, catheter use was uncomplicated and provided significant symptom relief. Mean duration of catheter use was 2.3 (range 1-6) months. Mean fluid removal was 360 (range 150-1000 cc) per 24 h in the first weeks of treatment. Infection was seen in two (12%) patients, dislocation of the catheter in three (18%). In the final analysis, catheter use was unsatisfactory in two patients (12%). We conclude that a chronic indwelling catheter is a very useful tool in the management of recurrent malignant pleural effusions. Treatment can be accomplished completely at home, whereas complications are rare.