The effects of pectin ingestion on gastric emptying, gastroduodenal motility, and plasma levels of glucose, insulin, and glucagon were studied. Initial studies demonstrated that 15 g of pectin was the optimal dose. Subsequently 6 healthy male volunteers were studied on 4 separate days at random. On day 1, gastric emptying of a liquid and a solid meal was assessed by radioisotope technique using 99mTc-dithiopropylthiomine. On day 2, the gastric emptying study was repeated with the addition of pectin to each meal. Plasma levels of glucose, insulin, and glucagon also were determined during these 2 days. On day 3, the effects of liquid and solid meals on gastroduodenal motility were assessed by means of a perfused catheter system. On day 4, the motility study was repeated with the addition of pectin to each meal. Pectin supplementation caused a significant prolongation of gastric emptying half-time of both liquid and solid meals (p less than 0.05). The addition of pectin, however, did not have any significant effect on gastroduodenal motility other than increasing the duodenal motility index 10 min after the liquid meal. The addition of pectin to the liquid meal lowered plasma levels of insulin at 15, 30, and 45 min, and glucagon levels 15 min after the meal. No effect was noted on blood sugar levels. On the other hand, the addition of pectin to the solid meal had no effect on plasma levels of glucose, insulin, and glucagon. We conclude that pectin supplementation delays gastric emptying of both liquid and solid meals in normal human subjects without causing notable changes in gastroduodenal motility or significant variations in pancreatic hormone plasma levels. The pectin effect on gastric emptying may be caused solely by increasing the viscosity of the meals.