Chronic pain is an important symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Pain is a complex experience and is not easily measured with a single instrument. Recently a Dutch version of the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) became available. The MPQ is a measure of the quality of pain as opposed to the traditional measures of pain intensity such as the Visual Analog Scale (VAS). In a study of 415 RA patients both measures of pain were administered. Both pain measures were only weakly related to medical variables. The VAS is easily administered and is reliable. The MPQ offers insight in the sensory experience of pain and gives more information about the quality of life of the patient. The conclusion is that the MPQ is a useful instrument to obtain a better picture of the complexity of the pain experience in RA.