The ability of conventional artificial filling urodynamic studies (CMG) and ambulatory monitoring during natural bladder filling (AM) to detect phasic detrusor activity (detrusor instability) and incontinence was studied in 52 patients suspected on clinical grounds of having bladder dysfunction, but in whom a CMG had not provided an adequate explanation of their symptoms. Detrusor instability (DI) was found on AM in 31 patients who were not unstable on conventional CMG using the criteria of the International Continence Society: DI was diagnosed on filling in 20 patients and on provocation in a further 11. Incontinence was demonstrated by electronic nappy testing in 23 patients: 13 had urge incontinence due to DI, 7 had genuine stress incontinence alone and 3 had both genuine stress incontinence and detrusor instability. Thus DI was diagnosed significantly more frequently by AM than by CMG. Ambulatory monitoring was more sensitive in the diagnosis of instability and incontinence and it may prove to be a valuable aid in the diagnosis of bladder dysfunction not detected during conventional cystometry.