The aim of this study was to conduct a component analysis of a group programme for chronic low back pain patients. Forty-five patients participated in the pain control course, consisting of education about pain and a training in self-hypnosis. A pain diary was used as a measure of pain intensity, up-time and use of pain medication. Psychoneuroticism and depression were assessed using the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90). No evidence was found for a differential efficacy of education or self-hypnosis on pain diary and SCL-90 scores. On completion of the total treatment package, patients manifested statistically significant changes on all measures except reported pain intensity. It is suggested that the pain control course is a non-invasive, inexpensive means of treatment which could be of some value in teaching even more severely disabled low back pain patients to cope more adequately with their pain problem. For this group of patients, a better adjustment to continuing pain may prove to be a more realistic therapy goal than pain reduction.