The development of solid-state catheters with miniature pressure transducers and portable dataloggers with a large memory capacity has allowed recording of gastrointestinal motility in ambulant subjects. Developments in silicone rubber extrusion technology made it possible to build a perfused manometric system, using a perfused manometric assembly requiring a low volume of perfusate. In the present study the feasibility of recording and automated analysis of small intestinal motility using a perfused multiple lumen manometric system was evaluated in seven healthy volunteers. Pressures were recorded from 12 sideholes arranged in four clusters spaced at 10-cm intervals from the catheter tip. Each channel was perfused at 0.15 mL min-1 with degassed water by a portable, low-compliance, perfusion pump. The 12 sidehole recording channels were connected to external transducers mounted on a belt. Pressure data were stored in two dataloggers. Motility was recorded in the sitting (30 min), and supine (30 min) position, during walking (30 min) and postprandially (90 min). Using purpose-built software baseline variations were corrected for and manometric variables (number of pressure waves, mean amplitude and motility index) calculated. Bench testing of the manometric assembly showed a median baseline pressure offset of 4.2 kPa (range 3.7-10.1) and upon occlusion a rise rate of 27.8 kPa sec-1 (range 19.7-30.8). Changes in body position affected baseline pressures so that compared to the supine position changes in baseline pressure varied between 1.5 +/- 0.7 kPa and 1.9 +/- 0.6 kPa during sitting (P < 0.02), and between 1.7 +/- 0.7 kPa and 1.5 +/- 0.9 kPa during walking (P < 0.03). Manometric recordings obtained during the fasting period showed an increase in small intestinal motor activity during walking. In the postprandial period no differences in motility variables were observed within one cluster and in time. Recording of small intestinal motility with a multiple-channel silicone rubber manometric assembly with a portable perfusion system is a feasible technique which is relatively inexpensive. Computer-assisted data processing allows for adequate elimination of artefacts and automated numerical analysis.