Agents that modify serotonergic function have therapeutic potential for the treatment of visceral hypersensitivity, either through a direct effect on perception or through modulation of visceral tone or motility. Administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors reduces oesophageal sensitivity to distension but not gastric sensitivity to distension. 5-HT ligands may also influence gastric mechanosensitivity by altering tone. Although the exact role of 5-HT receptors in the control of gastrointestinal functions remains unknown, 5-HT is generally considered to be the main candidate involved in the modulation of motor and sensory function from the gastrointestinal tract. Hence serotonergic modulation of upper gut sensitivity appears to be promising for the development of novel approaches to the treatment of functional disorders of the upper gastrointestinal tract.