Abstract Purpose: To evaluate the role of barium-rice administration for a standardized diagnosis of dysphagia and esophageal motility disorders. Materials and methods: Sixty healthy volunteers and 218 patients with various esophageal disorders (achalasia, scleroderma and other connective tissue diseases, neurologic diseases, esophagitis and others) were examined both by a conventional barium study and by a barium-rice study. The barium-rice meal consisted of barium sulfate and boiled rice, mixed half and half. The time required for esophageal clearance of one sip was measured. Results: Normal esophageal transit time in healthy controls was between 5 and 15 s for both methods. In patients, the conventional barium study revealed a prolonged transit time in only 16.5% (36 of the 218 cases). The barium-rice study was abnormal in 51.8% (113 of 218 cases), independent of the underlying disease. The barium-rice study was pathological in 77 of those 182 patients (42.3%) who had normal barium transit time. In 24 patients the radiologic results were confirmed by endoscopy and manometric measurements. Conclusions: Esophageal motility abnormalities are detected by a barium-rice study with a high sensitivity. With this simple and low-cost method, quantitative and reproducible results can be obtained. Barium-rice administration is a suitable tool for screening and follow-up of patients with dysphagia and esophageal motility disorders.