Regular exposure to hand-transmitted vibration can result in symptoms and signs of peripheral vascular, neurological and other disorders collectively known as the hand-arm vibration syndrome. The measurement of the effects of hand-transmitted vibration involves converting the evidence of disorder (symptoms and signs) into information that can be stored. Evaluation requires the use of scales on which to indicate the severity of the various symptoms and signs. Assessment involves a judgement of severity relative to a criterion, usually for a specific purpose (e.g. to decide on removal from work or compensation). The measurement and evaluation of symptoms and signs is necessary when monitoring patient health and when performing epidemiological studies for research. The assessment of the severity of the hand-arm vibration syndrome is currently performed with staging systems, but the criteria are not clear and not related to defined methods for measuring or evaluating the symptoms and signs. Recognizing that similar symptoms can occur without injury from occupational exposures to hand-transmitted vibration, this paper attempts to define significant peripheral neurological symptoms caused by hand-transmitted vibration (i.e. 'unusual symptoms') and how these symptoms and related signs may be measured. Scales for evaluating the symptoms (e.g. their extent) and the related signs (e.g. their probability relative to the probability of the sign being present in persons not exposed to vibration) are defined. A method of relating unusual symptoms to both the signs of disorder and the pattern of vibration exposure is illustrated. Assessments of severity will vary according to the reasons for assessing the health effects of vibration, and will depend on local practice and convenience, but a way of combining evaluations of symptoms and signs is demonstrated in a staging system. Although inherently complex, the methods may assist the collection of data required to improve understanding of the effects of hand-transmitted vibration and also support a more complete reporting of the condition in those adversely affected by hand-transmitted vibration.