D+ (high digestion efficiency) and D− (low digestion efficiency) genetic chicken lines selected for divergent digestion efficiency were compared in this experiment. Gizzard functions were tested in terms of digesta mean retention time and reactions to high dilution of a corn diet with 15% coarse sunflower hulls. The corn standard (S) and high fibre (F) experimental diets were given from 9 days of age to chickens from both lines. Besides the measurements of growth efficiencies (9 to 20 days), digestibilities (20 to 23 days) and gut anatomy (0, 9, 29, 42 and 63 days), two digestive transit studies were performed at 9 and 29 days of age. For the transit studies, the S and F diets were labelled with 0.5% TiO2 and 1% Cr-mordanted sunflower hulls. These diets were fed ad libitum during 3 days, and then the birds were euthanized. The digestive contents were analysed for the determination of marker concentrations and mean retention times (MRTs) in digestive compartments (crop + oesophagus, proventriculus + gizzard, duodenum + jejunum, ileum, rectum + cloaca and caeca) were determined. D+ birds were confirmed as better digesters than D− birds during the growth period, in association with larger gizzard and pancreas, and lighter small intestine in D+ than in D−birds. The MRT in the proventriculus-gizzard system, higher in D+ than in D− birds, was a major factor associated with differences between D+ and D− birds regarding digestion efficiencies and gut anatomy. Diet dilution with fibres reduced differences in digestion efficiencies and proventriculus-gizzard MRT between lines. Differences in gut anatomy between lines tended to disappear after 8 weeks of age. In conclusion, this study showed that MRT in the proventriculus-gizzard system was a major factor associated with genotype differences between the D+ and D− genetic chicken lines selected for divergent digestion efficiency, with longer MRT found in D+ than in D− birds.