Cisapride is an orally administered prokinetic agent which facilitates or restores motility throughout the length of the gastrointestinal tract. It is a substituted piperidinyl benzamide, chemically related to metoclopramide, but unlike metoclopramide, cisapride is largely devoid of central depressant or antidopaminergic effects. In placebo-controlled trials, cisapride improved healing rates and symptoms in both adults and children with reflux oesophagitis. Maintenance therapy with cisapride at half the healing dose is effective in reducing the incidence of relapse. Symptoms are also alleviated in patients with functional dyspepsia, and gastric emptying and symptoms are improved in most patients with gastroparesis, an effect which is sustained during long term administration. However, the efficacy of cisapride in end-stage gastroparesis remains less clear. Cisapride increases stool frequency in patients with chronic constipation, and limited data suggest that the drug may also be beneficial in treating chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction and irritable bowel syndrome. Cisapride demonstrated efficacy comparable with or superior to that of metoclopramide, and was at least as effective as cimetidine and ranitidine in patients with reflux disease. In patients with functional dyspepsia, cisapride has shown at least equal efficacy to domperidone, metoclopramide and ranitidine, and superior efficacy to cimetidine in the small comparative trials conducted to date. Adverse effects in patients receiving cisapride are generally transient and mild, with abdominal cramping, borborygmi, diarrhoea or loose stools most frequently reported. Central nervous system adverse effects are rare. Thus, with its favourable tolerability profile and demonstrated efficacy in a variety of gastrointestinal motility disorders, the position of cisapride as a valuable agent in the management of patients with gastrointestinal motility disorders is strengthening. However, larger well-controlled comparative trials of the drug with other agents are necessary before the relative position of cisapride in therapy can be categorically defined.