Rectal distension (RD) is known to induce upper gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects and underlying mechanisms of RD on gastric slow waves (GSW) and motor activity and furthermore to investigate the effects and mechanisms of electroacupuncture (EA) on GSW and motor activity. Eight female hound dogs chronically implanted with gastric serosal electrodes and a gastric fistula were studied in six separate sessions. Antral motility, GSW, heart rate variability, and rectal pressure were evaluated for the above purposes. 1) RD at a volume of 120 ml suppressed antral motility significantly. Guanethidine blocked the inhibitory effect of RD. EA at ST36 was able to restore the suppressed antral contractions induced by RD (16.6+/-1.7 vs. 8.0+/-1.4, P<0.001). Naloxone partially blocked the effect of EA on antral contractions. 2) RD reduced the percentage of normal GSW from 98.8+/-0.8% at baseline to 76.1+/-8.6% (P<0.05) that was increased to 91.8+/-3.0% with EA. The effects of EA on the GSW were nullified by the presence of naloxone. 3) EA did not show any significant effect on rectal pressure, suggesting that the ameliorating effects of EA on RD-induced impaired gastric motility were not due to a decrease in rectal pressure. 4) EA increased the vagal activity suppressed by RD. In conclusion, RD inhibits postprandial gastric motility and impairs GSW in dogs, and the inhibitory effects are mediated via the adrenergic pathways. EA at ST36 is able to restore the RD-induced impaired GSW and motor activities, possibly by enhancing vagal activity, and is partially mediated via the opioid pathway. EA may have therapeutic potential for functional gastrointestinal disorders.