Because the efficacy of cholecystokinin cholecystography in the detection of chronic acalculous cholecystitis remains in doubt, the procedure is rarely used in clinical practice. However, the ability to observe gallbladder contraction with sonography and 99mTc-para-isopropylacetanilido-iminodiacetic acid cholescintigraphy (PIPIDA) offers a possibility to improve the sensitivity of the test. To determine if the degree of gallbladder contraction after cholecystokinin is the same as measured by the three techniques and if it differs in symptomatic patients compared to the normal population, cholecystokinin cholecystography, cholecystokinin sonography, and cholecystokinin PIPIDA were performed in 10 symptomatic patients and 10 normal volunteers. The mean maximum contraction of the gallbladder during the three studies was 63%, 61%, and 68%, respectively, for the volunteers, and 72%, 63%, and 73%, respectively, for the patients. The mean maximum gallbladder contraction during all three procedures was 64% +/- 26% SD in the volunteers and 74% +/- 17% SD in the patients. The differences were not statistically significant. Although there was good correlation in the degree of maximum gallbladder contraction among cholecystokinin cholecystography, cholecystokinin sonography, and cholecystokinin PIPIDA, marked variation in both the volunteers and the patients makes it unlikely that the degree of contraction as observed by any of these techniques can be used to indicate the presence of chronic acalculous cholecystitis.