It is not clear which therapy should be used in patients with bleeding esophageal varices that are not controlled by emergency sclerotherapy. This is a high-risk group with reported mortality rates of between 70% and 90%. We report our 7-yr experience with staple transection of the esophagus in this patient group. Of 168 patients (280 bleeding episodes) treated with sclerotherapy, 22 had emergency staple transection for failure to control bleeding. Bleeding was controlled in 20 patients (90%), and 10 patients (45%) survived to leave the hospital, including 4 of 10 patients (40%) with Pugh grade C liver disease. We suggest that emergency staple transection is an effective salvage treatment for this high-risk group. (Hepatology 1992;15:403–406).