Between January 1979 and December 1986, 858 endoscopic cytological Examinations of the esophagus were performed, including 309 patients, with confirmed malignancies. A positive cytological diagnosis of cancer was made in 289 (93 5%) Adequate biopsies were obtained in 269 instances (87.0%), being positive in 238 cases (overall positivitv of biopsy, 77.02%). The combined use of biopsy and cytology provided a correct diagnosis in 98.0% of cases. The cytological examinations were positive in 30 of 40 patients (75.0%) with obstructing lesions in whom no satisfactory biopsies could be obtained. No false positive diagnosis was made among the 550 patients with benign conditions. In this series, cytology increased the yield of biopsy by 20.8%. © 1989, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. All rights reserved.