Extracorporeal lithotripsy (EL) was undertaken in 50 patients (mean age 73.7 years; range 29-90 years) with extrahepatic and, in five, with intrahepatic gallstones, the usual endoscopic methods having been unsuccessful in removing the stones. Occasionally stone fragments were passed spontaneously, but in most they had to be removed endoscopically, in 48 (96%) with extrahepatic and in three (60%) with intrahepatic stones. Biliary tract or gallbladder infections occurred after the lithotripsy and associated local litholysis in seven of the 48 with extrahepatic (14%) and three of the five (60%) with intrahepatic stones. There was one hospital death. The results indicate that EL has definite advantages over surgical treatment in these patients, who are usually elderly and in whom surgical intervention is more risky.