The aim was to investigate if female fibromyalgia patients (FMS) had experienced more negative life events than healthy women. Furthermore, the life events experienced in relation to onset of the FMS were evaluated. Another important area was to investigate the impact of the events experienced in the patients compared to healthy women. A new inventory was constructed to assess life events during childhood, adolescence and in adulthood as well as life events experienced in relation to the onset of the disorder. Forty female FMS patients and 38 healthy age-matched women participated in the study. During childhood or adolescence 51% of the patients had experienced very negative life events as compared to 28% of the controls. Conflict with parents was the most common life event. Before onset, 65% of the patients experienced some negative life event. Economic problems and conflicts with husband/partner were common. During the last year, 51% of the patients had life events which they experienced as very negative, compared to 24.5% of the controls (P < 0.01). Stressful life events in childhood/adolescence and in adulthood seem to be very common in FMS. Furthermore, the life events were experienced as more negative than the life events experienced by healthy controls.