The aim of this study was to determine the clinical, radiologic and endoscopic characteristics of adults with tracheobronchial foreign bodies (FB), and to review the role of fiberoptic bronchoscopy in extracting them. We reviewed the case histories and bronchoscopic reports for all patients over 14 years of age with FB treated between 1976 and 1995. Fifty-nine FB were removed from 56 patients; 68% were male and 48% were over 60 years of age. The most common clinical presentations were symptoms of respiratory infection and acute choking. In only in 28% could a risk factor for aspiration be identified. The X-ray was non specific and in 37% of cases the chest film was normal. In 66% FB aspiration was an unexpected endoscopic finding. The FB was removed from the right lung in 81.3%. FB were food items in 71% of cases. Fiberoptic bronchoscopy was useful for removal in 95% of cases, with few and unimportant complications. Two cases were resolved with rigid bronchoscopy and only one patient required surgery. FB aspiration is common and diagnosis is difficult in the adult. Fiberoptic bronchoscopy resolved most aspirations in adults with no important complications. The rigid bronchoscope should be reserved for very specific cases.