Endogenous prostaglandins regulate smooth muscle activity; prostaglandins and cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors influence gastrointestinal motility in inflammatory states such as postoperative ileus in animal models. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of two COX-2 inhibitors on gastric emptying and intestinal transit in healthy humans. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study, 66 healthy volunteers were randomized to one of two commercially available oral COX-2 inhibitors (celecoxib and rofecoxib), cisapride (positive control), or placebo. Following 7 days on therapy, study participants underwent a test of gastric emptying and small bowel transit of liquids and solids using scintigraphy. Data were analysed using Kruskal-Wallis (ANOVA on ranks)and Mann-Whitney rank sum tests. There were significant group effects on transit of solids: gastric emptying (ANOVA, P = 0.005) and small bowel transit (ANOVA, P = 0.056). However, neither COX-2 inhibitor significantly accelerated the liquid or solid gastric emptying or small bowel transit compared with placebo. The positive control, cisapride, accelerated gastric emptying of solids (post-lag slope of gastric emptying, P < 0.05), and small bowel transit of solids (t10%, P = 0.016). At maximum clinically approved dosages, celecoxib and rofecoxib have no significant effects on gastric emptying or small intestinal transit in healthy humans. Cisapride accelerates gastric emptying and small bowel transit in healthy humans.