The mechanisms of pain causation in fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic shoulder/neck pain (SNP) are still debated. We wanted to compare muscle activity and pain development during and after low-grade mental stress in FMS and SNP patients. Twenty-three women with FMS, 29 women with chronic SNP and 35 healthy women performed a stressful task lasting 60 min followed by a 30 min recovery period. We recorded surface electromyography over the trapezius, neck, temporalis and frontalis muscles. Subjects reported their pain at the corresponding locations together with the development of fatigue and perceived tension. Significant differences between FMS and SNP groups were not observed either for muscular or subjective responses. SNP patients and controls responded with more pain in the trapezius and neck regions than in the forehead, in contrast to FMS patients who had a more generalized pain response. Development of pain, tension and fatigue was not related to muscle activity for any group. We conclude that FMS and SNP patients have similar pain and electromyographic responses. The results suggest that similar pathophysiological mechanisms are involved although the responses are more generalised in FMS than in SNP patients. Muscular activity did not explain the pain which developed during the stressful task for either group. Pain lasted longer during recovery in both FMS and SNP patients compared to healthy controls, possibly a result of disease-related sensitisation in pain pathways.