A contention-based opportunistic feedback protocol has been proposed in the literature, to achieve multiuser diversity for the downlink transmission of a multiuser wireless system, with the assumption that the incoming data for the active users are infinitely backlogged. However, this assumption is not valid if the authors consider the finite-length queuing effect in practical systems. By taking not only the channel states, but also the queuing states into account, the authors propose an improved opportunistic feedback protocol with multiuser diversity, and analyse its performance with adaptive modulation and coding. Additionally, instead of solving a system of equations directly, a simple iterative method is proposed to obtain the stationary distribution of the system, where the system behaviour is modelled by a two-dimensional finite-state Markov chain. Numerical results demonstrate that the authors proposed protocol is superior to the protocol in the literature in terms of the average throughput, the average spectral efficiency and the average packet delay, when considering the queuing dynamics. © The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2014.