Barium examination of the esophagus is often useful for evaluating the cause of dysphagia, a frequent condition in patients who have undergone total laryngectomy. The examination may be difficult to interpret, however, because a variety of anatomic changes may be produced by radiation, infection, fistula, recurrent tumor, or the operation itself. Radiographic and clinical information on 45 total-laryngectomy patients, whose follow-up periods ranged from six months to 17 years, were analyzed. A recurrent tumor was found in 15 patients and was evident radiographically as a mass deviating the neopharynx in 14. Benign strictures in 14 patients appeared either as a long symmetrical narrowing or as a very short, weblike narrowing. Fistulas were demonstrated in 13 patients and presaged the development of recurrent tumors in five. Cricopharyngeal muscular dysfunction accounted for dysphagia in five cases. An understanding of these patterns leads to more accurate interpretation of the postoperative barium examination of the esophagus, and the radiographic findings often indicate the correct diagnosis with a high degree of confidence.