Thirty-four dermatology out-patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria and 34 with idiopathic generalized pruritus were investigated using standardized self-assessment psychological questionnaires to determine the incidence of significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. These patients were compared with age- and sex-matched but otherwise unselected general dermatology out-patients. Using the Beck depression inventory, significantly more patients with generalized pruritus (32.4%) had depressive symptomatology (score greater than 14) than controls (13.2%, P less than 0.05). Although more patients with chronic urticaria had depressive symptomatology (14.7%) than controls (4.4%), the difference was not statistically significant. Using the Speilberger state-trait anxiety inventory there were no significant differences between the patients with pruritus or urticaria and their controls with respect to state or trait anxiety scores above the upper 90% probability limit for the general population. Thus, significant depression may be expected in a substantial proportion of patients with idiopathic generalized pruritus but in a relatively small proportion of those with chronic urticaria.