The American Thoracic Society respiratory symptom questionnaire (ATS-Q) is widely used and has provided valuable information in epidemiologic studies. To determine the influence of psychological status on respiratory symptoms, we compared subjects' ATS-Q responses to their Ilfeld Psychiatric Symptom Index (PSI) scores. To minimize the potential confounding effect of respiratory disease on the association between respiratory and psychological status, from a population-based survey of 3,628 subjects, we studied only the 600 "healthy" subjects, defined by the following characteristics: between 14 and 55 yr of age; never-smokers; no diagnoses of respiratory, heart, kidney, thyroid disease, or anemia; and normal spirometry (defined as an FEV1 and FVC greater than 80% of predicted). Associations were found between respiratory symptoms (cough, phlegm, wheeze, dyspnea) and PSI subscales (anxiety, anger, depression, and cognitive disturbance). Adjusted odds ratios for respiratory symptoms ranged from 1.13 to 2.15 for every 10% increase in PSI score. Psychological status is an important determinant of respiratory symptoms and therefore must be taken into consideration when interpreting results of epidemiologic studies using questionnaire information.