This study reports the results of 189 patients treated by laser therapy for malignant dysphagia. Ninety-one per cent of patients derived benefit from treatment, but the long-term survival rate was poor, with only 12 per cent of patients surviving for 6 months. Survival was not influenced by either tumour length, site or histological type. Patients with adenocarcinomas initially showed improved swallowing after laser treatment compared with those with squamous tumours, but this difference had disappeared by 2 months. The results of laser treatment were not influenced by either tumour length or site.