Assuming that the experience of strong aversive tension might be an indicator of the extent of affect dysregulation within patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), we sought to operationalize the duration and intensity of these phenomena. In addition we studied the relationship between aversive tension and the experience of dissociative features. Seventy-two female patients with BPD, together with 55 healthy controls, completed a self-rating questionnaire covering the previous 24 h. Substantial and highly significant differences with regard to the duration and intensity of the subjectively perceived states of aversive tension were found. Amongst patients with BPD there was a strong correlation between duration and intensity of tension, and experience of dissociative features, both somatoform and psychological. The findings underline the clinical importance of states of aversive tension in BPD particularly with regard to stress-related induction of dissociative features.