We examined 29 patients without stone disease or pancreatic ductal ectasia who underwent transduodenal sphincteroplasty and transampullary septotomy for symptoms of biliary colic or pancreatitis. The combination of biliary symptoms and a fibrotic ampulla of Vater portends a favorable surgical outcome in virtually all such patients. Patients with pancreatitis did worse overall, perhaps due to the existence of unappreciated subclinical parenchymal disease not related to sphincter dysfunction. Although endoscopic retrograde cholangiography was sensitive in demonstrating abnormalities of the pancreaticobiliary system, its specificity as a predictor of good results was poor. It seems prudent to temper one's enthusiasm for sphincteroplasty in the patient with pancreatitis, whereas patients with biliary symptoms, the postcholecystectomy syndrome, or both will usually benefit significantly from this procedure.