Disturbances of gastric, intestinal and colonic motor and sensory functions affect a large proportion of the population worldwide, impair quality of life and cause considerable health-care costs. Assessment of gastrointestinal motility in these patients can serve to establish diagnosis and to guide therapy. Major advances in diagnostic techniques during the past 5-10 years have led to this update about indications for and selection and performance of currently available tests. As symptoms have poor concordance with gastrointestinal motor dysfunction, clinical motility testing is indicated in patients in whom there is no evidence of causative mucosal or structural diseases such as inflammatory or malignant disease. Transit tests using radiopaque markers, scintigraphy, breath tests and wireless motility capsules are noninvasive. Other tests of gastrointestinal contractility or sensation usually require intubation, typically represent second-line investigations limited to patients with severe symptoms and are performed at only specialized centres. This Consensus Statement details recommended tests as well as useful clinical alternatives for investigation of gastric, small bowel and colonic motility. The article provides recommendations on how to classify gastrointestinal motor disorders on the basis of test results and describes how test results guide treatment decisions.