The precise motor mechanisms associated with gastric emptying of nutrient liquids are unclear, in part because of difficulties in measuring the motility from the proximal and distal stomach simultaneously. We have now examined proximal and distal gastric motility, using a novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique. In seven healthy volunteers (4 males, 3 females; 27-37 yr), gastric emptying and motility were determined on two occasions after ingestion of 500 ml 10% and 25% dextrose labeled with 1 mM gadolinium tetraazacyclododecane tetraacetic acid, using a 1.5-tesla Philips Gyroscan ACS II scanner. Gastric emptying was determined every 15 min with a series of transaxial scans. After each series of transaxial scans, 120 coronal scans, 1.2 s apart, were performed through the antrum and proximal stomach. For each coronal slice the diameters of the proximal stomach and the antrum were measured to determine the number of contractions per minute and depth (%basal diameter). Gastric emptying (half-emptying time) was faster after ingestion of 10% compared with 25% dextrose (49 +/- 15 vs. 118 +/- 37 min; P < 0.01). After both meals, the diameter of the proximal stomach remained relatively constant, whereas there were marked fluctuations in the diameter of the antrum. Mean (+/- SD) frequency (2.8 +/- 0.6 vs. 2.0 +/- 0.8/min; P < 0.001) and depth (40 +/- 17% vs. 34 +/- 16%; P < 0.04) of antral contractions were higher after 10% dextrose compared with 25% dextrose. Rapid MRI techniques allow simultaneous measurement of both gastric emptying and motor function of different gastric regions. The increase in the frequency and depth of distal gastric contractions during ingestion of 10% compared with 25% dextrose supports the concept that the antrum contributes to the regulation of gastric emptying of nutrient liquids.