- We present a model of esophageal wall muscle mechanics during bolus transport with which the active and "passive" components of circular muscle tension are separately extracted from concurrent manometric and videofluoroscopic data. Local differential equations of motion are integrated across the esophageal wall to yield global equations of equilibrium which relate total tension within the esophageal wall to intraluminal pressure and wall geometry. To quantify the "passive" (i.e. inactive) length-tension relationships, the model equations are applied to a region of the esophagus in which active muscle contraction is physiologically inhibited. Combining the global equations with space-time-resolved intraluminal pressure measured manometrically and videofluoroscopic geometry data, the passive model is used to separate active and "passive" components of esophageal muscle tension during bolus transport. The model is of general applicability to probe basic muscle mechanics including the space-time stimulation of circular muscle, the relationship between longitudinal muscle tension and longitudinal muscle shortening, and the contribution of the collagen matrix surrounding muscle fibers to passive tension during normal human esophageal bolus transport and in pathology. Example calculations of normal esophageal function are given where active tone is found to extend only over a short intrabolus segment near the bolus tail and segmental regions of active muscle squeeze are demonstrated.