Non-selective NSAIDs enhance the risk of serious ulcer complications (bleeding, perforation, obstruction), hospitalization and death about 3-10-fold. The gastrointestinal side effects of NSAIDs have a considerable economical burden, since they are responsible for 5-10 billion dollars in hospitalization charges and lost work time. NSAIDs cause gastrointestinal damage by both topical and systemic effects. COX-1-mediated inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis is probably the most relevant mechanism, but NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal injury also by COX-independent pathways. COX-2-selective inhibitors (Coxibs) such as celecoxib, rofecoxib or valdecoxib have been developed to achieve an equal relief of pain and inflammation as classical NSAIDs but without their risk of gastrointestinal side effects. Within the first three months, celecoxib became the fastest selling drug in history. The gastrointestinal safety of classical NSAIDs and Coxibs has been compared in a variety of endoscopic investigations, meta-analyses and outcome studies. In conclusion, these studies have clearly shown, that Coxibs are associated with significantly less dyspeptic symptoms, erosions, ulcers and ulcer complications. In contrast, Coxibs seem to delay gastric ulcer healing to the same extent as traditional NSAIDs. Besides their effects on the upper gastrointestinal tract, NSAIDs can cause small intestinal inflammation, ulcers of the small and large intestine, ileal dysfunction, intestinal strictures, colitis and NSAID enteropathy. In addition, NSAIDs increase the risk of lower gastrointestinal complications including bleeding, perforation and obstruction. Current data suggest, that Coxibs are associated with a significantly lower risk of serious lower GI events than traditional NSAIDs. It is now under debate, who should receive COX-2-selective inhibitors instead of classical NSAIDs, since Coxibs are much more expensive. Data from cost-effectiveness studies suggest, that Coxibs should currently be used only in patients with high risks of GI complications.