Certain gastric disorders affect spatiotemporal parameters of the gastric slow wave. Whereas the electrogastrogram (EGG) evaluates electric potentials to determine primarily temporal parameters, fundamental physical limitations imposed by the volume conduction properties of the abdomen suggest the evaluation of gastric magnetic fields. We used a multichannel superconducting quantum interference device magnetometer to study the magnetogastrogram (MGG) in 20 normal human subjects before and after a test meal. We computed the frequency and amplitude parameters of the gastric slow wave from MGG. We identified normal gastric slow wave activity with a frequency of 2.6 +/- 0.5 cycles per minute (cpm) preprandial and 2.8 +/- 0.3 cpm postprandial. In addition to frequency and amplitude, the use of surface current density mapping applied to the multichannel MGG allowed us to visualize the propagating slow wave and compute its propagation velocity (6.6 +/- 1.0 mm s(-1) preprandial and 7.4 +/- 0.4 mm s(-1) postprandial). Whereas MGG and EGG signals exhibited strong correlation, there was very little correlation between the MGG and manometry. The MGG not only records frequency dynamics of the gastric slow wave, but also characterizes gastric propagation. The MGG primarily reflects the underlying gastric electrical activity, but not its mechanical activity.