Oesophageal cancer is on the rise and often present in an advanced state. Advances in surgical techniques, chemotherapy and radiotherapy have not changed the prognosis of oesophageal cancer over the last 20 years. With the unravelling of molecular biology of carcinogenesis in the oesophagus, there is a need for a paradigm shift from cancer treatment to prevention. Barrett's oesophagus is the commonest pre-malignant condition for development of oesophageal adenocarcinomas and is eminently suitable for the study of chemoprevention strategies. Now in its third year, the AspECT trial is the biggest, multicentre, randomised controlled clinical trial looking at the long-term chemoprevention effect of esomeprazole with or without aspirin. More than 85% of the participants tolerated the medications at the initial intended doses, and the drop-out rate has been 7%; the interim analysis is due in 2011.