The functional esophageal disorders include globus, rumination syndrome, and symptoms that typify esophageal diseases (chest pain, heartburn, and dysphagia). Factors responsible for symptom production are poorly understood. The criteria for diagnosis rest not only on compatible symptoms but also on exclusion of structural and metabolic disorders that might mimic the functional disorders. Additionally, a functional diagnosis is precluded by the presence of a pathology-based motor disorder or pathological reflux, defined by evidence of reflux esophagitis or abnormal acid exposure time during ambulatory esophageal pH monitoring. Management is largely empirical, although efficacy of psychopharmacological agents and psychological or behavioral approaches has been established for several of the functional esophageal disorders. As gastroesophageal reflux disease overlaps in presentation with most of these disorders and because symptoms are at least partially provoked by acid reflux events in many patients, antireflux therapy also plays an important role both in diagnosis and management. Further understanding of the fundamental mechanisms responsible for symptoms is a priority for future research efforts, as is the consideration of treatment outcome in a broader sense than reduction in esophageal symptoms alone. Likewise, the value of inclusive rather than restrictive diagnostic criteria that encompass other gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms should be examined to improve the accuracy of symptom-based criteria and reduce the dependence on objective testing.