Dietary fibre consumption is known to be beneficial to increase stool bulk and frequency. In contrast, it is unclear whether chronic dietary fibre deficiency affects colonic motor functions, especially neuronally mediated muscle contractions. In this study, rats were fed a fibre-free diet or diet containing dietary fibre (cellulose or guar gum) for 27 days. Furthermore, neurogenic and myogenic contractions were evaluated in circular and longitudinal muscle strips of the distal colon. Additionally, the number of enterochromaffin (EC) cells, which play important roles in the initiation of the peristaltic reflex, was also examined by immunohistochemistry for serotonin. Myogenic contractions induced by carbachol or substance P were examined in the presence of tetrodotoxin. Circular muscle was hyposensitive to carbachol, but longitudinal muscle was hypersensitive to substance P in the fibre-free group. Nerve-mediated circular (5-20 Hz) and longitudinal (1-2 Hz) muscle contractions evoked by electrical field stimulation were attenuated in the fibre-free group and the latter response was almost abolished by atropine, suggesting functional changes of cholinergic neurons. EC cell number was decreased in the fibre-free group. In conclusion, changes in neurogenic and myogenic contractions and a decrease in EC cell number observed may affect colonic motility of the fibre-free group.