BACKGROUND/AIMS: The diagnosis of functional heartburn is important for management, however it stands on fragile pH monitoring variables, ie, acid exposure time varies from day to day and symptoms are often few or absent. Aim of this study was to investigate consistency of the diagnosis of functional heartburn in subsequent days using prolonged wireless pH monitoring and its impact on patients' outcome. METHODS: Fifty proton pump inhibitotor refractory patients (11 male, 48 years [range, 38-57 years]) with a diagnosis of functional heart-burn according to Rome III in the first 24 hours of wireless pH monitoring were reviewed. pH variables were analysed in the following 24-hour periods to determine if tracings were indicative of diagnosis of non-erosive reflux disease (either acid exposure time > 5% or normal acid exposure time and symptom index > or = 50%). Outcome was assessed by review of hospital files and/or telephone interview. RESULTS: Fifteen out of 50 patients had a pathological acid exposure time after the first day of monitoring (10 in the second day and 5 in subsequent days), which changed their diagnosis from functional heartburn to non-erosive reflux disease. Fifty-four percent of non-erosive reflux disease vs 11% of functional heartburn patients (P < 0.003) increased the dose of proton pump inhibitors or underwent fundoplication after the pH test. Outcome was positive in 77% of non-erosive reflux disease vs 43% of functional heartburn patients (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: One-third of patients classified as functional heartburn at 24-hour pH-monitoring can be re-classified as non-erosive reflux disease after a more prolonged pH recording period. This observation has a positive impact on patients' management.