The mode of presentation of celiac disease in the United States is not known. We investigated the demographic and clinical features of 227 patients with biopsy-proven celiac disease and determined if there had been changes over time. The patients had been entered into a database; those seen prior to 1990 were retrospectively entered while those seen subsequently were prospectively entered. A "symptomatic" presentation described the "classical" presentation of celiac disease with prominent gastrointestinal symptoms: diarrhea and weight loss. Females were younger and had a longer duration of symptoms compared to males. The modes of presentation were symptomatic (62%), anemia or reduced bone density (15%), screening first-degree relatives (13%), and incidental diagnosis at endoscopy (8%). We compared those diagnosed before and after 1993 (when serologic testing was first used), and noted a reduction in those presenting with diarrhea, 73% vs 43% (P = 0.0001) and a reduction in the duration of symptoms, from 9.0 +/- 1.1 years to 4.4 +/- 0.6 years (P < 0001). In conclusion, the percentage of celiac disease patients presenting with diarrhea has decreased, probably related to the more widespread use of serologic testing for celiac disease.