Patients with tracheal or major airway obstruction due to inoperable carcinomas are at a high risk of developing respiratory failure or post-obstructive pneumonia, or both. This often leads to death in days or weeks. In such cases there is usually an urgent need to restore the airway. This report details the short-term results and techniques used for the treatment of airway obstruction by direct intratumoural injection of several anti-cancer drugs. A total of 93 patients with nearly complete extrinsic obstruction of at least one major airway were treated by injection of anti-cancer drugs directly into the endobronchial tumours or infiltrated bronchial mucosa through a flexible fiber-optic bronchoscope. At every session of treatment 1-3 ml each of 50 mg/ml 5-fluorouracil, 1 mg/ ml mitomycin, 5 mg/ml methotrexate, 10 mg/ml bleomycin and 2 mg/ml mitoxantrone were injected separately at different sites without pre-mixing. Local intratumoural chemotherapy relieved the obstruction in 81 of the 93 patients. Endoscopically visible tumours were reduced in size, and infiltrative changes were also improved. Obstruction was not relieved in 12 patients. The therapy was well tolerated and had no systemic side-effects, and no serious complications. Intratumoural chemotherapy can be considered a new life-saving palliative method in patients with life-threatening airway obstruction.