We studied electrophysiological changes in rabbit esophageal epithelium following acute (AS) and chronic stress (CS). Esophageal tissue was placed in Ussing chamber and the potential difference U between the luminal and abluminal sides, the short-circuit current I-sc, as well as the tissue resistance R were measured. The initial values of these parameters for each sample were determined after the samples were stabilized in Ringer solution. Then, the tissues were exposed for 1 h to normal Ringer solution or Ringer solution with pH 4.0 and pH 1.7 with or without pepsin (0.25 mg/ml). Fluorescein was added to the luminal side of the sample to measure its permeability. In the AS group, U at Ringer solution (pH 1.7)+pepsin was significantly decreased in comparison with the baseline and control values (by 46 and 22%, respectively, p<0.05). R decreased by 74% in comparison with baseline, which little differed from the decrease in control samples exposed to Ringer solution (pH 1.7)+pepsin (by 62%). CS did not change U relative to baseline values, while changes in R were similar to those in the AS group. In the AS group, the permeability of the esophageal tissue perfused with Ringer solution (pH 1.7)+pepsin was significantly higher than in both the control and CS groups. AS, but not CS, made the esophageal epithelium more sensitive to the effects of noxious agents, disrupted barrier properties, and increased permeability. The effects of stress on gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms can be related to severe exposure to acid and/or pepsin; however, the mechanisms other than epithelial defense should be evaluated.