Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomies are used most commonly for enteral feeding. We report the use of such gastrostomies for decompression of the obstructed gastrointestinal tract. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomies were performed on 53 patients over a 2-year period for gastrointestinal decompression because of gastric or small bowel obstruction. Forty-six patients had malignant obstruction from a primary abdominal or metastatic carcinoma and 7 patients had non-malignant obstruction or stasis. Gastrostomy for decompression was successful in 41 of 46 (89%) cases of malignant obstruction and in all 7 of the non-malignant cases. Tube utilization for decompression averaged 60 +/- 91 days. A 28 F tube with a 4-inch perforated intragastric portion was fashioned to maximize drainage. This efficient decompression tube allowed oral intake of liquids and soft foods in 88% of patients. Complications, which occurred in 4%, included one case of fatal peritonitis and one case of cellulitis.