In the present double-blind placebo-controlled study the effect of cisapride on functional dyspepsia was evaluated in patients with and without histological gastritis. Patients with functional dyspepsia and whose symptoms persisted after a 2 week run-in period with antacid treatment were randomized to receive cisapride (10 mg) or matching placebo three times daily for 4 weeks. Symptoms of epigastric pain, bloating, nausea, belching, early satiety and heartburn were graded on a four-point scale based on patients' feedback and diary card recording. A global response was also formulated by the investigators. One hundred and four patients entered the study and 76 completed the trial, comprising 36 patients with histological gastritis and 40 patients without gastritis. Symptom scores in both gastritis and non-gastritis groups were significantly improved by both cisapride and placebo; however, the improvement was not statistically different between the two treatment groups. Cisapride produced a good or better global response in 58% of subjects with histological gastritis and in 53% of subjects without gastritis compared with 47% and 52%, respectively, of patients on placebo; this difference was not statistically significant. Gastric histology did not influence the effect of cisapride on the symptoms of functional dyspepsia.