The incidence of different types of thoracic pain in outpatients at the Medical University Policlinic, Basel, was obtained for comparison from a random sample of the Swiss population. The data from the Rose questionnaire which was used were compared with the case histories. Of 515 patients, 233 admitted having thoracic pains. These complaints were the reason for consulting the doctor in 71 patients. Of all patients who admitted thoracic pains, 14% complained of typical ischemic pains and 60% of unspecific thoracic pains. Perusal of the case histories showed that the doctor was only able to distinguish between coronary heart disease, other organic causes and functional complaints after selective history taking and clinical examination in 89% angina pectoris and 74% unspecific thoracic pains.