Thirty consecutive patients with far-advanced cancer affecting the esophagus and gastroesophageal junction underwent palliative endoscopic neodymium-YAG laser therapy. No patients were excluded from treatment, regardless of age, extent of disease, or performance status. Sessions were performed every other day and concluded when an endoscope could be easily passed beyond the previously obstructed area. Treatment was completed in 3.3 sessions (seven days). Luminal patency was achieved in 97%, but did not always equate with functional success. Seventy percent (21 patients) were able to ingest all necessary calories and leave hospital for home (functional success). Reasons for discrepancy between technical success and functional success included radiation-induced pharyngeal dysphagia, anorexia, painful tumor load and debility, and treatment complications. Endoscopic laser therapy of far-advanced esophageal or gastroesophageal junction carcinoma was almost always technically feasible, with relatively low morbidity. While technical success could not always be equated with functional success, therapy was "completely" functionally successful in 70% of patients with far-advanced disease. Poor performance status at accession correlated best with poor functional outcome.