Vasoactive drugs are safe and easy to administer, and universal treatment is the first-line approach for all patients with suspected variceal bleeding. There are strong arguments that the combination of vasoactive drugs, started as soon as possible, and endotherapy later on is the best therapeutic option, particularly in cases of ongoing bleeding at the time of endoscopy. The main action of vasoactive drugs is to reduce variceal pressure. This can be achieved by diminishing the variceal blood flow and/or by increasing resistance to variceal blood flow inside the varices. Changes in variceal pressure parallel changes in portal pressure. Drugs for the treatment of variceal bleeding can therefore be assessed by measuring the changes in portal pressure, azygos blood flow and variceal pressure. Vasoactive drugs can be divided into two categories: terlipressin (Glypressin), and somatostatin and its analogues, especially octreotide. Terlipressin significantly reduces portal and variceal pressure and azygos flow, is superior to placebo in the control of variceal haemorrhage and improves mortality. It is beneficial when combined with sclerotherapy. It also has the advantage that it might preserve renal function, one of the most important factors affecting the outcome of cirrhosis. As such, terlipressin is the most potent of the various vasoactive drugs. Somatostatin significantly reduces portal and variceal pressure and azygos flow, is superior to placebo in controlling variceal haemorrhage, and improves the success of sclerotherapy. The effect of octreotide is well established for preventing the increase in portal pressure after a meal (similar to blood in the intestines) though the effect of ocreotide on variceal pressure is controversial.