Between January 1985 and September 1989, 75 patients presenting with severe chronic pancreatitis with distal stricture and upstream dilatation underwent stenting of the main pancreatic duct (MPD) through the major papilla (n = 54) or minor papilla (n = 21) in order to drain the predominant duct through a 10 F plastic prosthesis. All patients had undergone biliary and pancreatic sphincterotomy with a few cases of complications, and the majority (84%) also ESWL in the period from October 1987 onwards without complications. Relief of pain (94%) occurred parallel to a decrease in the MPD diameter. In a mean follow-up period of 37 months improvement of the nutrition status and relief of pain was seen. Clogging of these large plastic stents was treated by replacement or by another endoscopic or surgical procedure. Complications were treated endoscopically. Further measures necessary due to failure of stenting consisted of laterolateral pancreatico-jejunostomy in 15% of patients and placement of self-expanding 18 F metal mesh stents in 29%. There was no mortality due to surgery. It is concluded that stenting of distal strictures in the MPD can lead to rapid resolution of pancreatic pain due to ductal hypertension and is the best means for determining the cause of pain, providing an alternative to surgery. Significant improvement of a stricture by prolonged stenting is however unusual, and such patients treated endoscopically require close follow-up with stent replacement approximately once a year.