To determine the prevalence and clinical significance of a mixed anxiety-depressive (MAD) syndrome in primary care, a two-stage sampling design was applied to 796 consecutive clinic attendees without known psychiatric illness. Among 78 systematically interviewed subjects, 10.3% (n = 8) had a depressive disorder alone, 12.8% (n = 10) had an anxiety disorder alone, 19.2% (n = 15) had a comorbid anxiety and depressive disorder and 12.8% (n = 10) had a combination of subsyndromal anxiety and depressive features that fulfilled either ICD-10 or our own operational criteria for MAD. Patients with MAD rated their disability as being comparable to that of patients with anxiety or depressive disorders. These findings lend support to the notion that there is a sizeable subgroup of patients in primary care who appear to be suffering from a psychiatric syndrome with an admixture of subsyndromal depressive and anxiety features. Questions about the temporal stability of MAD and preferred approaches to treatment have yet to be answered.