- We sought to determine whether the proximal colon modifies its capacity to accommodate contents by altering the tone within its wall. In dogs equipped with manometric recorders in the terminal ileum and proximal colon, a highly compliant bag was introduced into the proximal colon. With the use of an electromechanical barostat, the capacity of the colonic segment was monitored at a constant low-distending pressure; the volume of air required to maintain a preset pressure in the bag was recorded by the barostat. During fasting, rhythmic cycles of volume were recorded, with a cycle frequency of approximately 1/min. Importantly, this phenomenon was not related to the simultaneous recording of manometric pressures in the adjacent bowel or to the interdigestive cycle (phase III) in the ileum. Peristaltic-like pressure complexes (recorded manometrically) in the ileocolonic region were associated with receptive relaxation of the proximal colon. Feeding, bethanechol, and morphine reduced volumes accommodated in the bag, presumably by increasing tone in the wall of the colon. Atropine had the opposite effect. These results support the concept that tonic changes in the wall of the proximal colon, which could influence accommodation and storage in the large bowel, are not always recorded by conventional techniques.