BACKGROUND Improving the success rate of ureteroscopic lithotripsy for proximal ureteral stones is the hot issue in this field. Here we reported our experience on the treatment of proximal ureteral stones. METHODS From 2005 to 2010, 187 consecutive patients with proximal ureteral stones who underwent ureteroscopic lithotripsy were enrolled. The initial 52 patients treated by semi-rigid ureteroscope alone were classified as group 1. The subsequent 135 patients treated by semi-rigid ureteroscope with the aid of stone basket and flexible ureteroscope were classified as group 2. RESULTS In group 1, the overall stone-free rate was 67.3%. By a single procedure of ureteroscopic lithotripsy using a semi-rigid instrument, patients with ureteral stones below the 4th lumbar vertebra level achieved 91.7% stone-free rate, which was only 50% in patients with stones above the 4th lumbar vertebra level. Conversion to open surgery occurred in two patients since ureteral perforation was observed. In group 2, the stone-free rate achieved 93.2% with the aid of an N-Trap basket, which was significantly higher than that of patients without the aid of the basket (51.6%). Flexible ureteroscope was subsequently used in patients with fragment migration, thus making the overall success rate in group 2 increases to 97.0%. CONCLUSIONS Ureteroscopic lithotripsy is a safe and efficacious treatment for proximal ureteral stones. A single procedure of ureteroscopic lithotripsy using semi-rigid ureteroscope could achieve a satisfactory stone-free rate in patients with proximal ureteral stones below the 4th lumbar vertebra level. However, patients with ureteral stones above the 4th lumbar vertebra level experienced higher stone-migration rate, which would decrease the success rate. Fortunately, the stone-free state could possibly be achieved with the aid of an N-trap basket and flexible ureteroscope.