We describe the source subtraction strategy and observations for the extended Very Small Array (VSA), a cosmic microwave background interferometer operating at 33 GHz. A total of 453 sources were monitored at 33 GHz using a dedicated source subtraction baseline. 131 sources brighter than 20 mJy were directly subtracted from the VSA visibility data. Some characteristics of the subtracted sources, such as spectra and variability, are discussed. The 33-GHz source counts are estimated from a sample selected at 15 GHz. The selection of VSA fields in order to avoid bright sources introduces a bias into the observed counts. This bias is corrected and the resulting source count is estimated to be complete in the flux-density range 20–114 mJy. The 33-GHz source counts are used to calculate a correction to the VSA power spectrum for sources below the subtraction limit.