Relaxation training was found to be highly successful in ameliorating pain in a population that has not been studied before--individuals with ulcerative colitis. Twenty subjects with chronic pain due to ulcerative colitis received 6 weekly training sessions of 75 min duration in the technique of progressive relaxation, and another 20 subjects with the same condition constituted an attention control group. There were no significant differences between experimental and control subjects before treatment but, immediately after treatment and also at the 6-week follow-up, experimental and control subjects differed significantly on 6 of 7 measures. By comparison with control subjects, experimental subjects: used significantly fewer words on the McGill Pain Questionnaire to describe their pain (P less than 0.001); rated their pain, on a scale of 1-10, as less intense (P less than 0.02); said that their pain was less frequent (P less than 0.04); rated their pain relief, on a scale of 1-10, as greater (P less than 0.001); reported, on the Zung Pain and Distress Scale, less distress due to pain (P less than 0.001). After treatment but not before there were significantly fewer experimental than control subjects taking anti-inflammatory drugs (P less than 0.03).