One hundred and fourteen patients attending for barium meal examination were randomly allocated to receive Buscopan (hyoscine N-butylbromide, Boehringer Ingelheim; 20 mg) or glucagon (0.5 mg) as paralysing agents, or sterile water as control. The radiographs were analysed with regard to (a) gastric and duodenal distension and coating and (b) early or delayed filling of the duodenum with barium, in order to assess claims that paralysing agents influence radiographic quality. It was found that both duodenal distension and coating were better with Buscopan and glucagon than with water but there was no difference between Buscopan and glucagon in producing these effects. Relaxants produced no significant effect on distension or coating of the stomach. Glucagon prolonged the time of some examinations but gave better visualisation of the stomach, which was less frequently obscured by contrast in the duodenum.