Recently extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) has been introduced as a nonoperative treatment for gallstone disease. Except for lung damage, no significant adverse effects of ESWL of gallbladder stones have been observed in animals. In clinical use ESWL of gallbladder stones is now confined to 15% to 30% of symptomatic patients. To achieve complete stone clearance, ESWL of gallbladder stones must be supplemented by an adjuvant therapy. ESWL of bile duct stones is highly effective and can be considered in patients in whom primary endoscopic or surgical stone removal fails. Second generation lithotriptors allow anesthesia-free (outpatient) treatments, but the clinical experience with most of these ESWL devices is still limited. The likelihood of gallbladder stone recurrence is a major disadvantage of ESWL treatment, which raises the issue of cost-effectiveness. ESWL for cholelithiasis is a promising treatment modality with good short-term and unknown long-term results.