1. We have described and analysed the movements of the isolated stomach during distension by correlating intragastric pressure with video recordings, and investigated the presence of intrinsic inhibitory and excitatory reflexes. 2. Isolated guinea-pig stomachs, placed in an organ bath, were slowly distended with Krebs solution using a syringe pump via a cannula through the pylorus. The changes in intragastric pressure during cycles of distension were monitored by pressure transducers connected to both oesophageal and pyloric cannulae. The resistivity of the gastric wall (change in pressure with volume, delta P/delta V) and the amplitude and frequency of phasic pressure events were calculated from pressure recordings. 3. The movements of the stomach were also recorded onto videotape. The motion of the gastric wall during distension cycles was analysed to establish the patterns of contractions, their propagation and the distribution of fluid in the stomach. During filling, fluid was preferentially accommodated in the fundus. Propagating (peristaltic) contractions, often starting in the fundus, moved aborally towards the pylorus. The peak of the phasic pressure event was observed when a contraction reached the orad antrum. As it reached the pylorus, intragastric pressure was at its minimum. 4. During the initial phase of distension, intragastric pressure increased steeply. Tetrodotoxin and hyoscine reduced both the resistivity and amplitude of phasic pressure events. Hexamethonium had a similar effect. Thus distension appears to activate an excitatory reflex pathway, involving nicotinic ganglionic transmission. This reflex increases wall tension and enhances myogenic peristaltic contractions. 5. In control preparations, with larger distension volumes, the intragastric pressure decreased, despite the continued infusion of Krebs solution. L-NAME and apamin abolished this drop in pressure, indicating that gastric enteric inhibitory mechanisms prevail at larger distension volumes. After blockade of the excitatory reflex, hexamethonium antagonized the inhibitory response, indicating that activation of inhibitory mechanisms involves nicotinic transmission, probably on enteric inhibitory motoneurons. 6. Both the excitatory and inhibitory reflexes in the isolated stomach operate within a physiological range of gastric volumes. The excitatory reflex predominates at small distension volumes, leading to large phasic propagated contractions that mix the contents and may lead to emptying of the stomach. The inhibitory reflex, described previously as adaptive relaxation, can maximally relax the stomach and is activated preferentially at higher distension volumes to accommodate the contents. The interplay of these reflex pathways in the isolated stomach produces a rich repertoire of gastric movements. 7. The isolated stomach preparation, used with a combination of kinematic, kinetic and pharmacological methods, provides a highly suitable means of investigating the mechanisms of gastric motility.