To determine the relative frequency of different diseases and of functional gastrointestinal disorders among patients referred by general practitioners to a gastroenterology clinic, 2000 patients referred over a five-year period were studied. 980 had organic diseases, of which peptic ulcer, oesophagitis, and inflammatory bowel disease accounted for about half. 888 patients had functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, without any disease. Among these, various syndromes could be distinguished; abdominal pain with altered bowel habit (irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon type) accounted for about half of these patients. More attention could profitably be directed towards understanding these common functional syndromes so that they can be more readily diagnosed and better managed.