Immunoreactive substance P was determined in lumbar CSF of 35 healthy volunteers and 60 patients with chronic pain syndromes of at least 6 months duration. No significant relationships were found between substance P levels and age, sex or body height. Substance P levels were lower in chronic pain patients, with either neurogenic (n = 23) or idiopathic pain (n = 37) syndromes, than in the healthy volunteers. Substance P levels were especially low in patients with neurogenic pain with lesions involving the extremities and in those with polyneuropathy, while patients with central pain or pain of the head or face had higher values. Substance P levels were related to depressive symptomatology as determined by means of visual analogue scales and to stable personality traits as determined by means of the Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP). The most consistent (and inverse) relationship was found between substance P levels and the symptom 'inner tension' and between substance P levels and the personality trait 'psychic anxiety.'