BACKGROUND: Therapy-resistant lichen planus (LP) can be a challenging condition for dermatologists. There are some case reports about successful treatments with alitretinoin of cutaneous and oral, but not of esophageal LP. OBJECTIVE: We present the unique case of a patient with cutaneous, oral and esophageal LP which was refractory to classical treatment options (topical clobetasol propionate and pimecrolimus, intramuscular triamcinolone acetonide); because of systemic side effects the patient did not tolerate systemic acitretin dosed up to 25 mg daily. Methods: Oral alitretinoin was used at a dose of 30 mg daily. RESULTS: Both oral and skin changes as well as dysphagia completely resolved within 4 weeks without any severe side effects and the drug was used for 6 months. No papules, intraoral striae or dysphagia recurred during the 6 months of treatment. After 4 months the patient relapsed with mucosal patches so that a second cycle was initiated for 6 months where oral LP lesions resolved after 4 weeks also (with sporadic mild headache). CONCLUSION: Further studies are needed to better understand the impact of alitretinoin in LP. Our observation suggests alitretinoin as a new, well-tolerated treatment option for esophageal LP after failed response to conventional treatments.