MMC-related retroperistalsis is a cyclical phenomenon in the duodenum linked to phase III. The aim of this study was to elucidate the direction of propagation of juxtapyloric duodenal pressure waves in the postprandial state in healthy humans and to compare with the contractions in the interdigestive phase II. Antroduodenal manometry was performed in 11 healthy subjects. Individual pressure waves propagating along a 6-cm duodenal segment were analysed with respect to the proportions of antegrade and retrograde propagation in the four duodenal subsegments (D1–D2) to (D4–D5), each subsegment being 15 mm. A test meal was given 30 min after a phase III had passed and motility recording continued for 60 min after the meal. During both the first and the second 30-min period of postprandial recording the proportion of retrograde pressure waves was larger just distal to the pylorus, (D1–D2), 40% (23–68) and 50% (23–68), respectively, compared to the distal part, (D4–D5), of the duodenal segment, 29% (12–30) and 10%(10–24), respectively (P < 0.05 and 0.01). In contrast, during late phase II of the interdigestive state antegrade pressure waves predominated in all four duodenal subsegments. We conclude that in the postprandial state a high proportion of the duodenal pressure waves (40–50%) is retrograde in the immediate juxtapyloric area while antegrade contractions predominate at a distance 5–6 cm distal to the pylorus. These manometric data together with recent observations of postprandial transpyloric liquid flow, indicate that retrograde duodenogastric propelling of contents may be an important determinant for the gastric emptying rate.