Superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis (SLK) is a chronic and recurrent inflammatory disease of the superior tarsal, bulbar and limbal conjunctiva that often responds to topical treatment with silver nitrate. As an alternative treatment in 11 patients (13 eyes), we applied thermal cautery to the inflamed superior bulbar conjunctiva following subconjunctival injection of 2% xylocaine. The overall positive response rate to thermocautery was 73% (8 patients). Of the positive responders, 63% (5 patients) had been considered silver nitrate treatment failures. Keratitis sicca was additionally noted in 55% of the patients studied. Impression cytology of involved superior bulbar conjunctiva was nearly devoid of goblet cells during the acute stage of the disorder. Following successful cauterization, goblet cells returned. Thus, thermocauterization of the superior bulbar conjunctiva appears to be a safe and effective mode of therapy for SLK.