One half of 42 subjects treated for painful shoulders received classic acupuncture, and one half received a placebo in which the needles did not penetrate the skin. Half of each of these groups was treated in a positive setting to encourage the subject, and half in a negative setting designed to keep encouragement at a minimum. All patients were independently rated for susceptibility to hypnosis. Although range of motion did not improve, the majority of patients reported significant improvement in shoulder discomfort to a blind evaluator after treatment; placebo and acupuncture groups did not differ in this respect, however. The positive and negative settings did not affect treatment outcome. In all groups, those who were not rated as highly susceptible to hypnosis tended to fail to achieve the highest levels of relief, but such differences were not statistically significant.