Seventy-six patients with Barrett's esophagus were cared for during a 10-year period. Fifty-six patients (74%) presented with complications of the disease. There were 20 strictures, 7 giant ulcers, 11 cases of dysplasia, and 29 patients with carcinoma. In patients with benign disease, 93% had mechanically defective sphincters and 83% had peristaltic failure of the lower esophageal body. Esophageal pH monitoring showed excessive esophageal exposure to pH less than 4 in 93% and excessive exposure to pH more than 7 in 34% of the patients tested. Ninety-three per cent of patients with excessive alkaline exposure had complications, compared to only 44% with normal alkaline exposure (p less than 0.01). Gastric pH monitoring, serum gastrin levels, and gastric acid analysis supported a duodenal source for the alkaline exposure. Antireflux surgery was performed using Nissen fundoplication in 30, Belsey partial fundoplication in 3, and Collis-Belsey gastroplasty in 2. Six required resection with colon interposition. Good symptomatic control was achieved in 77% after antireflux surgery. Four patients had symptoms and signs of duodenogastric reflux; three required a bile diversion procedure. Fifteen patients had an en bloc curative resection with colon interposition. One patient with high-grade dysplasia on biopsy was found to have intramucosal carcinoma after simple esophagectomy. Five tumors were intramucosal, seven were intramural, and four were transmural. Lymph node involvement occurred only in the latter two. Actuarial survival 5 years after curative resection was 53%. Median survival time for patients after palliative resection or no resection was 12 months. Study of en bloc specimens indicated that extent of resection should be adapted to extent of disease: esophagectomy for intramucosal disease, en bloc esophagectomy with splenic preservation for intramural and transmural disease. Serum CEA was useful in detecting recurrent disease after surgery when the primary tumor stained positively for CEA.