Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is an under-diagnosed disorder of unknown aetiology, characterized by chronic widespread muscular pain, often accompanied by somatic and psychological symptoms. Several studies have described the impact of FMS on patients' functionality, disability and quality of life. Other studies have reported on the burden to patients, healthcare payers and society. This review brings the existing evidence together and concludes that the patient burden of fibromyalgia is very high in comparison with many other conditions. The burden to healthcare payers and society is important as well, and can be mostly explained by factors not directly related to the treatment of FMS. Data suggest that the cost before diagnosis may even be higher than the cost after diagnosis. It is very likely that the combination of symptoms not only complicates the recognition and treatment of FMS, but also magnifies the burden of FMS. Despite the complex and controversial construct of this syndrome, the results in terms of patient, healthcare payer and societal burden are quite consistent.