The authors conducted a prospective study in 90 patients undergoing upper endoscopic examination under sedation to determine whether there was any beneficial effect in anesthetizing the pharynx with topical anesthesia. These patients were divided into three groups of 30 patients. Group A received 39 ml of viscous lidocaine gargle (2%) diluted with 15 ml of tap water. Group B received the placebo. Group C received neither viscous lidocaine nor placebo. All patients received intravenous meperidine and diazepam titrated to produce adequate sedation for upper endoscopy. It was demonstrated that the undesirable effects of upper endoscopy, that is, gagging, sore throat, and dysphagia, did not differ significantly in any of the three study groups as evaluated by either the patients or the endoscopist. Only two patients complained that the procedure was mildly unpleasant. The authors conclude that the practice of anesthetizing the pharynx in patients receiving sedation for upper endoscopy should be abandoned since anesthesia of the pharynx is not exempt from morbidity and mortality as well as being time-consuming and expensive.