A total of 36 patients with grade 2 or greater erosive esophagitis and an abnormal 24-h pH monitor study, were treated in a randomized, double-blind fashion to assess the efficacy of sucralfate suspension as adjunctive therapy to cimetidine for severe esophagitis secondary to gastroesophageal reflux. Treatment consisted of cimetidine, 300 mg qid and either sucralfate suspension (1 g/10 ml) or an identical placebo suspension, 10 ml after meals and 20 ml hs. Patients were treated for 12 wk unless endoscopic healing occurred earlier. Initial evaluation and monthly follow-up consisted of symptom monitoring, endoscopic evaluation and pre- and post-therapy esophageal manometry, Bernstein test, and 24-h pH monitoring. The combination of cimetidine and sucralfate suspension was superior to cimetidine alone in improving daytime heartburn symptoms (p less than 0.05) but not nighttime heartburn, dysphagia, or regurgitation. Sucralfate plus cimetidine improved the overall endoscopic outcome of esophagitis more than cimetidine alone (p less than 0.05). More patients exhibited endoscopic healing in the adjunctive sucralfate group than in the cimetidine-only group. Endoscopic healing, however, was not statistically different between groups. We conclude that sucralfate used as adjunctive therapy to cimetidine resulted in improvement of some of the symptoms of reflux, and probably increases the likelihood of complete healing of esophagitis, compared with cimetidine alone.