This article describes the development and validation of the Phan Vietnamese Psychiatric Scale (PVPS). The PVPS was derived from Vietnamese idioms and cultural understandings of psychiatric and emotional distress identified from the Vietnamese literature and using ethnographic methods. The PVPS consists of a 26-item depression subscale, a 13-item anxiety subscale and a 14-item somatization subscale. Estimates of internal consistency for the three subscales ranged from .87 to .95, with 4-day interval test-retest reliability ranging from .81 to .89. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the subscale structure, with the depression subscale comprising two components 'general mood disturbance' and 'psychovegetative symptoms.' Multitrait-multimeasure analysis supported the construct validity of the scale. The PVPS demonstrated good criterion validity against case assignments by psychiatrists, naturalist healers, and structured diagnostic measures. The PVPS was rated as superior in clinical sensitivity and acceptability in comparison to other related measures.