In order to evaluate occurrence and cause of a number of diffuse cerebral symptoms (DCS), such as impaired memory, inability to concentrate, emotional instability, irritability, etc., 44 survivors of cerebral infarction (CI) and 40 survivors of myocardial infarction (MI) were seen 6-26 months after onset for psychometric testing and an interview about DCS. Although surprisingly common in both groups, DCS were significantly more frequent in CI patients than in MI patients. 1/2 of the former and 1/3 of the latter complained of 5 or more symptoms. In contrast, a significant difference in test performance was demonstrated in only 1 of 4 tests. There was no significant correlation between the number of DCS and test performance. In both groups, DCS occurrence was independent of age, whereas in the MI group, but not in the CI group, test performance was inversely related to age. In the CI group, DCS occurrence was not significantly related to size or site of the infarction. The results indicate that an organic brain damage cannot be the sole cause of DCS, and it is suggested that some of the symptoms are manifestations of a stress response syndrome provoked by insufficient coping with the consequences of the disease.