The pattern of swallowing by which the oral bolus reaches an air-containing oropharynx is called an 'open swallow' whereas the sequence in which the oropharynx is collapsed on the arrival of the bolus is called a 'closed swallow'. The significance of this distinction was further analyzed by a correlation with other laryngeal and pharyngeal functions during swallowing in a cineradiologic study in 75 dysphagic patients and 50 asymptomatic volunteers. The relative incidence of open and closed type swallows was similar in the two groups. The maximum elevation of the pharynx and larynx was the same in open and closed swallow, although in individuals with an open swallow the elevation occurred later than in individuals with a closed swallow. Epiglottic movement disturbances, defective closure of the laryngeal vestibule, pharyngeal constrictor muscle paresis, cricopharyngeal incoordination, cervical esophageal webs and Zenker diverticula were significantly more common in individuals with an open pharyngeal swallow than in those with closed swallowing.