Background Rome III incorporates changes in the definition of functional gastrointestinal disorder that involve a 3-month recall time for symptoms, rather than 1-year. Aim To validate a new version of the Talley-Bowel Disease Questionnaire (Talley-BDQ) and assess the impact of recall time period on the prevalence of symptoms. Methods A sample of community residents were randomly mailed a survey using 1-year (n = 396) or 3-month recall period (n = 374). We evaluated the reliability and the concurrent validity of the two versions of the questionnaire. The proportions of subjects reporting symptoms in the two versions were compared. Results The median (IQR) kappa on symptom-related questions was 0.70 (0.57-0.76) from the 1-year version and 0.66 (0.56-0.77) from the 3-month version. A median kappa of 0.39 (0.19-0.70) and 0.58 (0.39-0.73) was observed for concurrent validation of the 1-year and 3-month versions respectively. Except for gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms, no differences were observed on the prevalence of clinically relevant symptoms. Conclusion The revised Talley-BDQ is reliable, with excellent reproducibility and validity. There were few differences in reported symptom rates between the 3-month and 1-year recall time versions of the questionnaire. A 1-year recall time may more efficiently capture infrequent or subtle symptoms.