One hundred and eight consecutive patients admitted urgently for the first time with chest pain were interviewed to assess psychiatric symptoms prior to admission, at admission and three months later. Seventy-one patients had ischaemic heart disease, 19 had non-specific chest pain and 18 patients were excluded because of other organic causes for the pain. Compared to the ischaemic heart disease subjects, the non-specific chest pain patients tended to have more psychiatric disorder which increased over the three assessments; at follow up 33% of ischaemic heart disease patients and 59% of non-specific chest pain patients had psychiatric disorder. Chest pain was reported by 71% of the non-specific group at three months but this was not related to presence of psychiatric disorder. Unlike previous studies which 'have assessed out-patients with normal coronary angiograms', this study has shown that males predominate among patients admitted urgently with non-specific chest pain. In addition, these subjects use greater amounts of cigarettes and alcohol, and experience significantly more psychiatric disorder compared to patients admitted with ischaemic heart disease. The factors which lead to some of these patients developing chronic non-specific chest pain need to be investigated in further studies.