Few studies have focused on the impact of gastroesophageal reflux disease on general health and on work absenteeism. Our aim was to evaluate the prevalence and severity of symptoms suggestive of gastroesophageal reflux disease in two samples of Italian employees. We interviewed 424 subjects of S. Matteo Hospital staff and 344 subjects of the Military Factory of Pavia regarding the frequency and severity of heartburn and acid regurgitation during the last 12 months. Subjects were specifically asked whether symptoms interfered with the quality of work activities or determined work absenteeism. In all, 91% of eligible subjects responded. The prevalence rate per 100 of any heartburn or regurgitation experienced at least monthly was 21. This value increased to 45% taking into consideration symptoms experienced occasionally. Mild or moderate symptoms were more frequent than severe symptoms (P < 0.001). Only 2.6% of subjects answered that symptoms have a negative influence on the quality of their work. No work absenteeism was recorded. The study confirms that typical gastroesophageal reflux symptoms are common conditions, but mainly of mild or moderate degree.