Between 1982 and 1991, 19 patients (17 men and 2 women) with Barrett's esophagus, 10 of whom were in a surveillance program, were found to have high-grade dysplasia without evidence of invasive carcinoma. Median age was 66 years (range, 30 to 79 years). Heartburn was the most common presenting symptom. Esophagoscopy at the time of high-grade dysplasia diagnosis demonstrated normal Barrett's mucosa in 10 patients (53%), shallow ulcers in 3, slight mucosal irregularities in 2, small mucosal nodules in 2, stricture in 1, and shallow ulcer with stricture in 1. Eighteen patients underwent esophagectomy. There were no operative deaths. Nine patients (50%) had invasive carcinoma. Postsurgical stage was stage 0 in 9 patients, stage I in 6, stage IIA in 2, and stage IIB in 1. Median follow-up was 34 months (range, 2 to 116 months). Recurrent cancer developed in 2 patients. Overall 5-year survival was 66.7%; 5-year survival for patients with stage 0 disease was 100% and for stage I and II disease, 35.7%. We conclude that high-grade dysplasia in an indication for esophageal resection because of the high rate of associated early invasive carcinoma and that resection can be done safely with the expectation of excellent long-term survival. Because of these findings, we continue to recommend endoscopic surveillance in all patients with Barrett's esophagus.