To evaluate the efficacy of a mixture of barium and carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) suspension in upper gastrointestinal contrast studies, and to determine its optimal concentration and method for use, eight healthy beagle dogs underwent conventional upper gastrointestinal contrast imaging and a modified procedure using a mixture of barium sulphate and CMC. Four different procedures were carried out on the dogs at weekly intervals. In the first, the dogs were administered 10 ml/kg of 60 per cent barium suspension for conventional study of the upper gastrointestinal tract. The second, third and fourth procedures involved modified methods in which the dogs were given 10 ml/kg of a mixture of 25 per cent barium and 0.5 per cent CMC prepared to a low, moderate or high viscosity, respectively. All four procedures were evaluated by four criteria: the quality of the images obtained, the translucency and distensibility of the bowel, and the transit time. The method of imaging which used a moderately viscious CMC formulation provided excellent image quality, high translucency, a rapid transit time and suitable bowel distension to enable more precise diagnosis of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.