Since noncardiac chest pain is the only well-established indication for 24-hr esophageal pH and pressure recording, the analysis of the association between chest pain episodes and esophageal motility abnormalities or reflux is the most important part of data analysis in 24-hr monitoring. Until now, different time windows have arbitrarily been used by various research groups. The aim of this study was to determine the optimal time window for symptom analysis in 24-hr esophageal pH and pressure monitoring. For this purpose repetitive symptom association analysis was carried out, using time windows of various onsets and durations. For each time window, the symptom indices for reflux and dysmotility were calculated. The symptom index for both reflux and dysmotility showed a gradual increase for windows with increasingly early onset, following a pattern that would be predicted on the basis of Poisson's theory. However, both indices had a relatively sharp cutoff point at 2 min before the onset of pain. Both indices only showed a predictable gradual increase when the time window starting at -2 min was extended beyond the moment of pain onset. It is concluded that the optimal time window for symptom analysis in 24-hr esophageal pH and pressure recording begins at 2 min before the onset of pain and ends at the onset of pain.