The role of the proximal and distal stomach in the emptying of solids and liquids from the stomach remains unclear. We have used a dual isotope technique to quantify proximal and distal stomach emptying of a solid (100 g of 99mTc labelled liver/ground beef) liquid (either 200 ml of normal saline (eight subjects) or 25% dextrose (seven subjects) labelled with 113mIn-diethylenetriaminepenta-acetic acid) mixed meal. A manometric catheter simultaneously measured antral, pyloric, and duodenal motor activity. The liquid component dispersed rapidly throughout the stomach and emptied after a minimal lag period. The emptying of the 25% dextrose was delayed compared with the saline. This delay was associated with increased retention of the liquid in the distal stomach, a significant increase in localised phasic pyloric contractions, and a suppression of antral contractions. The solid component initially resided wholly within a proximal stomach reservoir area. Solids then redistributed from proximal to distal stomach during the emptying of liquid from the stomach. Dextrose delayed gastric emptying of solids compared with saline by increasing the solid lag period and retention in the proximal stomach. There was no significant difference between saline and dextrose meals in the distal stomach retention of solid or in the linear rate of emptying after the lag period. We conclude that, contrary to general opinion, the proximal stomach plays an important role in the control of gastric emptying of solids while the distal stomach is important in the emptying of nutrient liquids.