In 119 patients referred for barium pharyngography, both single- and double-contrast examinations were performed. The air-contrast examinations were easier to perform and yielded fewer suboptimal studies than the single-contrast examinations. Neither technique proved to be sensitive in the detection of lesions in the oral cavity, but for lesions in the pharynx, the air-contrast technique had a higher sensitivity (87% vs. 33%) and overall accuracy (94% vs. 84%) than the combination of singel-contrast radiography and videotaped fluoroscopy. Single-contrast films provided no further information than the combination of the air-contrast views and the videotaped fluoroscopy. The air-contrast examination was clinically helpful in those patients in whom indirect laryngoscopy was difficult.