In September 2001, a Task Force was set up under the auspices of the European Federation of Neurological Societies with the aim of evaluating the existing evidence about the methods of assessing neuropathic pain and its treatments. This review led to the development of guidelines to be used in the management of patients with neuropathic pain. In the clinical setting a neurological examination that includes an accurate sensory examination is often sufficient to reach a diagnosis. Nerve conduction studies and somatosensory-evoked potentials, which do not assess small fibre function, may demonstrate and localize a peripheral or central nervous lesion. A quantitative assessment of the nociceptive pathways is provided by quantitative sensory testing and laser-evoked potentials. To evaluate treatment efficacy in a patient and in controlled trials, the simplest psychometric scales and quality of life measures are probably the best methods. A laboratory measure of pain that by-passes the subjective report, and thus cognitive influences, is a hopeful aim for the future.