The presence of injection related anxiety and phobia may influence compliance, glycaemic control and quality of life in patients with insulin-treated diabetes. Unselected consecutive, insulin-treated patients attending a diabetes clinic for follow-up, completed a standardised questionnaire providing an injection anxiety score (IAS) and general anxiety score (GAS). A total of 115 insulin-treated (80 Type 1 and 35 Type 2) diabetic patients completed the questionnaire. Injections had been avoided secondary to anxiety in 14% of cases and 42% expressed concern at having to inject more frequently. An IAS > or = 3 was seen in 28% of patients and of these, 66% injected insulin one to two times/day, 45% had avoided injections, and 70% would be bothered by more frequent injections. A significant correlation between IAS and GAS was seen (Kendall's tau-a 0.30, 95% CI 0.19-0.41, P < 0.001). GAS was significantly associated with both previous injection avoidance and expressed concern at increased injection frequency. No significant correlation was seen with HbA1c and injection or general anxiety scores. Symptoms relating to insulin injection anxiety and phobia have a high prevalence in an unselected group of diabetic patients requiring insulin injections and are associated with higher levels of general anxiety.