Over the past decade and a half, several strategies have been developed to improve the survival of patients with esophageal cancer. Two strategies employ either neoadjuvant chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy followed by surgery to improve local-regional control and decrease the incidence of distant metastases. A third strategy uses nonsurgical therapy as definitive treatment for patients without metastatic disease. Single-institution pilot trials and randomized comparative trials have been conducted evaluating each approach. The rationale for these trials, results, and current recommendations are presented.