There is considerable evidence indicating that patients with irritable bowel syndrome respond to emotional and environmental stimulation with increased colon motor activity. It has been suggested also that increased colon motor activity is not confined to the colon and may be representative of a broader disorder affecting the rest of the gastrointestinal tract in this population. The results of our current study suggest that anger may have a significant, although differential effect on antral motor activity in IBS patients compared to normal controls. We found that while antral motor activity did not differ significantly in our groups during rest, anger decreased antral motor activity in IBS patients and increased antral motor activity in normal controls. The difference was not attributable to a difference in anger levels since the groups did not differ in their response to the standardized anger stressor. Rather, the difference in the antral motor response appears to be qualitative and a possible marker for irritable bowel syndrome. Our data further suggest that increased colon motor activity in IBS patients during emotional stress is not a result of a rise in motor activity throughout the gastrointestinal tract, but a phenomenon that may be unique to the colon in this patient population.