The effect of a bolus intravenous administration of secretin (2.0 U/kg) on resting lower esophageal sphincter pressure (LESP) was investigated in seven patients with esophageal achalasia. Basal LESP before secretin injection in the patients was 60.1 +/- 3.4 mmHg (Mean +/- SEM), which was significantly higher than 26.9 +/- 2.5 mmHg in normal controls consisting of eight healthy volunteers. LESP significantly decreased within 1 min after the injection both in the patients and the controls. The maximum pressure change from each basal LESP was 31.2 +/- 5.2 mmHg in the patients, which was significantly greater than 12.1 +/- 1.8 mmHg in the controls. The effect of secretin disappeared within 5 min in the controls. The effect in the patients, however, lasted throughout the investigation time of 30 min. It is concluded that secretin has a long-acting effect on muscular relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter in esophageal achalsia patients.