Pneumatic dilation is the initial therapy for primary esophageal achalasia. Recently, polyethylene balloon (Rigiflex) dilators have been used with varying success and complication rate. We performed a total of 47 dilations in 29 consecutive patients with achalasia using the Rigiflex dilators. The 3.0-cm balloon was always used first. If there was no symptomatic response, a 3.5-cm balloon was used after 4-8 wk. If there was still no symptomatic response after 4-8 wk, a 4.0-cm dilator was used. Eighteen (62%) patients were successfully dilated with a 3.0-cm balloon only. Of 11 patients not responding to a 3.0-cm balloon, five were dilated successfully with a 3.5-cm balloon. Of six patients not responding to a 3.5-cm balloon, four were successfully dilated with a 4.0-cm balloon dilator. Two patients eventually required surgery. The overall success with Rigiflex balloon dilator was achieved in 27 of 29 (93%) patients. There were no complications. We conclude that pneumatic dilation for esophageal achalasia performed in a graded fashion starting with Rigiflex 3.0-cm balloon dilator has a high success rate without complications in patients with achalasia.