From 1950 to 1973, 169 patients received irradiation for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. The average survival time was 10 months, with 7% of the patients living 2 years or more. The median survival time was 7 months; palliation averaged 6 months. Most completing therapy (89%) achieved some palliation: 66% had significant relief of dysphagia for 2 months or longer. The anatomical location of the malignant obstruction did not influence therapeutic response; there was similar response in cases of upper, middle, and lower esophageal lesions. Thirty patients with progressive obstruction underwent endoesophageal intubation with Celestin tube placement; this procedure provided symptomatic relief with minimal morbidity.