A total of 2394 patients with a foreign body in the oesophagus was treated in our unit between 1965 and 1976, including 343 children in whom fish bones (146) and coins (134) were most commonly responsible; in adults, bones (fish and chicken) were commonest. Most of the foreign bodies were impacted in the cervical oesophagus. Pharyngoscopy and oesophagoscopy were carried out under general anaesthesia in all cases except those in which the foreign body was ejected spontaneously or when the patient refused the examination. Oesophageal perforation due to a foreign body was encountered in only one child. Two patients in the series developed the fearsome complication of oesophagoaortic fistula.