Questionnaires assessing symptoms, anxiety and handicap were completed by 127 vertiginous patients. Factor analysis identified four distinct symptom clusters which formed the basis for the construction of scales quantifying the number and frequency of symptoms of: (a) vertigo (of long and short duration); (b) autonomic sensations and anxiety arousal; and (c) somatization. Scores on the vertigo severity scale were significantly related to clinical diagnosis and had near-zero correlations with measures of anxiety. Vertigo severity, autonomic signs and depressed mood each independently contributed to variance in handicap, taking precedence over the relationship between handicap and trait and state anxiety. Our findings suggest that the familiar association between anxiety and vertigo may be mediated principally by autonomic symptomatology arising as a result of somatopsychic and psychosomatic processes.