We identified irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in 47.7% of 86 women having diagnostic laparoscopy for chronic pelvic pain, 39.5% of 172 women having elective hysterectomy, and 32.0% of 172 controls age-matched for the hysterectomy group (P = NS). Constipation and pain subtype IBS were more common in hysterectomy patients than controls (P less than 0.05). In laparoscopy patients, dyspareunia was more common in those with IBS than in those without it (P less than 0.05). In the hysterectomy group, more IBS patients had chronic pelvic pain (P less than 0.005), and abnormal menses (P less than 0.01). Chronic pelvic pain was more frequently the only prehysterectomy diagnosis in IBS patients (P less than 0.05), and IBS was present more often when pain was a reason for hysterectomy (P less than 0.01). One year after laparoscopy, IBS patients gave lower overall status ratings (P less than 0.01) and lower pain improvement ratings (P less than 0.05) than non-IBS patients. In women who had a hysterectomy for pain, there was less pain improvement one year later in those with the pain subtype of IBS than in non-IBS patients (P less than 0.05). IBS is associated with gynecologic symptoms and affects the symptomatic outcome of diagnostic laparoscopy and hysterectomy.