Only a small number of ingested foreign bodies perforate the esophagus and even a smaller fraction migrate extraluminally. Four such penetrating and migrating foreign bodies of the upper aerodigestive tract are presented. Review of the literature revealed 321 cases of penetrating ingested foreign bodies, of which 252 remained intraluminal and 43 were found extraluminally, with the status of the remainder indeterminate. Analysis revealed that an intraluminal penetrating foreign body carried a higher overall mortality than one that migrated extraluminally. Although intraluminal and extraluminal penetrating foreign bodies may remain quiescent for years before presenting a complication, no correlation existed between mortality and the duration of the foreign bodies' retention. The greatest mortality was seen with vascular complications followed by diffuse and local suppurative processes. The overall mortality was significantly reduced in the postantibiotic era.