To avoid fatal complications after extensive pulmonary vein (PV) ablation, it has been proved important to comprehend the anatomic relation between the PVs and the esophagus. In 42 consecutive patients with atrial fibrillation, PV ostial isolation was performed using a basket catheter. The shortest distance and anatomic relation between the esophageal lead and PV ostium, determined by successful PV ostial isolation, was analyzed in biplane fluoroscopic views. In 18 left superior PVs (LSPVs) (43%), 13 left inferior PVs (32%) (LIPVs), and all the right PVs (group A), the shortest distance was >10 mm in ≥1 of the biplane fluoroscopic views. In 4 LSPVs (10%) and 2 LIPVs (5%) (group B), the shortest distance was ≤5 mm in the fluoroscopic views. In the remaining PVs (group C), the esophagus was situated directly behind 10 LSPVs (24%) and 12 LIPVs (29%) (group C1), posteromedial to 1 LSPV (2%) and 9 LIPVs (22%) (group C2), and medial to 9 LSPVs (21%) and 5 LIPVs (12%) (group C3). The risk of esophagus-associated complications with ablation around the left PV ostia was suggested to be high in group B, very low in group A, and relatively low in group C. In group C3, extensive PV ablation might increase the risk of that complication. In conclusion, esophageal leads are useful for determining strategies for PV ablation to avoid esophagus-associated complications, because they enable comprehension of the anatomic relation between the PVs and the esophagus. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.