Abstract The effect of short-term lower esophageal distension on intragastric pressure (IGP) and the related neural pathways involved were investigated in urethane-anesthetized rats in which enteric nervous system connections were interrupted by ligations of the pylorus and the gastroesophageal junction while keeping the gastric vagus nerve trunks intact. Under these conditions, lower esophageal distension with a bolus of 0.2 to 0.5 ml saline in 0.1 ml step increments, raised the inside esophagus balloon pressure from 1.89±0.17 to 4.21±0.13 cm H 2O and reduced IGP from −0.42±0.08 to −0.77±0.12 cm H 2O, respectively. Bilateral cervical vagotomy partly blocked the gastric relaxation induced by 0.5 ml esophageal distension from −0.77±0.12 to −0.34±0.02 cm H 2O; in contrast, a further bilateral splanchnectomy partly rebounded the effect of 0.5 ml esophageal distension from −0.34±0.02 to −0.46±0.05 cm H 2O. These results suggest that the enteric nervous system may not play a prominent role in acute esophageal distension induced-gastric relaxation. However, more than 50% of this effect is central nervous system mediated (via the long vago–vagal reflex). The other 40% can be maintained without central and enteric nervous systems involvement, probably via a proposed gastric vagal afferent–esophageal collateral reflex.