Between September 1985 and December 1987, 74 patients underwent attempted endoscopic biliary therapy using a combined percutaneous transhepatic and endoscopic transpapillary approach (combined procedure). All patients had had failed endoscopy-alone procedures and had contraindications to surgery. The indication was palliation of malignant biliary obstruction in 66 cases (41 common bile duct, 25 hilar), assistance with sphincterotomy for the removal of common bile duct stones in 6 cases, and management of benign biliary stenosis in 2 cases. The initial procedure was percutaneous transhepatic access to the biliary tree, which was successful in all but 1 case (99%). The bile duct was drained externally for an average of 3.4 days before the combined procedure. One patient died during this period from hemorrhage associated with liver puncture. Combined procedure was performed in 72 cases and was successful in 60 [53 malignant stricture (53/66 = 80%), five common duct stone (5/6 = 83%), two benign stricture (2/2 = 100%)]. Procedure-related morbidity and mortality, respectively, were 12.5% and 0% for benign disease and 36% and 3% for malignant disease. The total (initial endoscopy included) morbidity and 30-day mortality were 33% and 0%, respectively, for benign disease and 62% and 27% for malignant disease. Subsequently, stent change has been required on 16 occasions, with endoscopy-only successful in 13 (81%) and repeat combined procedure being required in three (19%). The combined procedure improves the ability of endoscopy to offer nonsurgical therapy to poor risk patients with both malignant and benign biliary disease but is associated with significant morbidity and disease-related mortality.