In a prospective randomized trial the clinical results after transhiatal oesophagectomy with reconstruction in the anterior mediastinum (51 patients) or posterior mediastinum (45 patients) were compared. There were no differences in age, preoperative risk factors, tumour stage and local (surgical) complications between the two groups. However, reconstruction in the posterior mediastinum was associated with significantly fewer days spent in the intensive therapy unit (9 versus 14), fewer cardiopulmonary complications (13 versus 25 per cent) and lower mortality (30-day mortality rate 2 versus 6 per cent; hospital mortality rate 4 versus 10 per cent). These data show superiority of reconstruction in the posterior mediastinum after transhiatal oesophagectomy. This route is strongly recommended, particularly for patients with cardiopulmonary risk factors.