Helicobacter pylori infection, histological features of the gastric mucosa, and gastric motor and secretory functions were evaluated in 45 consecutive patients with chronic idiopathic dyspepsia. H. pylori infection was found in 60% of dyspeptic patients, compared with 33% of 15 healthy controls (P = 0.1). No difference was detected in basal or stimulated gastric acid secretion between dyspeptic patients and healthy controls. Gastric emptying was significantly (P less than 0.01) delayed in dyspeptic patients compared with healthy controls when standardized for age and sex. Delayed gastric emptying was associated with a low frequency of H. pylori infection, female gender, and young age. Epigastric pain or burning and postprandial fullness were, respectively, more severe in patients with H. pylori infection (P less than 0.02) and in those with delayed gastric emptying (P less than 0.01). These findings support the existence of separate subsets of patients with chronic idiopathic dyspepsia. Despite the presence of overlaps, there appear to be partially different functional derangements and clinical features in different subgroups of dyspeptic patients.