Functional dyspepsia is an extremely common disorder of gastrointestinal function. The disorder is thought to be heterogeneous, with different pathophysiological mechanisms underlying varied symptom patterns. A diversity of changes in gastrointestinal tract function and structure has been described in functional dyspepsia. These involve alterations in the stomach, such as impaired accommodation, delayed gastric emptying and hypersensitivity, and alterations in the duodenum, such as increased sensitivity to duodenal acid and/or lipids and low-grade inflammation. In this Review, we summarize all these abnormalities in an attempt to provide an integrated overview of the pathophysiological mechanisms in functional dyspepsia.