The pelvic floor is a dome-shaped striated muscular sheet that encloses the bladder, uterus, and rectum, and, together with the anal sphincters, has an important role in regulating storage and evacuation of urine and stool. This article reviews the anatomy, nerve supply, pharmacology, and functions of the anal sphincters and the pelvic floor. The internal and external anal sphincters are primarily responsible for maintaining faecal continence at rest and when continence is threatened, respectively. Defecation is a somato-visceral reflex regulated by dual nerve supply (i.e. somatic and autonomic) to the anorectum. The net effects of sympathetic and cholinergic stimulation are to increase and reduce anal resting pressure, respectively. Faecal incontinence and functional defecatory disorders may result from structural changes and/or functional disturbances in the mechanisms of faecal continence and defecation.