Liver cirrhosis may be complicated by the development of esophageal varices. The treatment of esophageal varices has changed radically during the last 30 years. Our aim was to study whether the prognosis for patients with esophageal varices had improved in Sweden between 1969 and 2002. We linked register data from the Hospital Discharge Register and from the Causes of Death Register at The National Board of Health in Sweden between 1969 and 2002 to identify and follow-up all patients with esophageal varices according to International Classification of Diseases-8, -9, and -10. There were 12,281 patients hospitalized with esophageal varices, and for all patients there was an increase in the 5-year survival in the years between 1969 and 1979 as opposed to the years between 1990 and 2002. Better survival occurred for women compared with men, for younger patients compared with older, and for patients hospitalized in the latest decade compared with the earlier decades. We found a significant decrease in the mortality caused by esophageal varices during the years studied but no decrease attributable to other causes. In conclusion, mortality for patients hospitalized with esophageal varices in Sweden decreased between 1969 and 2002. The decrease is seen for both 1- and 5-year mortality, and this suggests that the use of new treatment strategies both for acute variceal hemorrhage and secondary prophylaxis has had an impact on prognosis.