The absence of laboratory tests and clear criteria to identify homogeneous (sub)groups in patients presenting with unexplained fatigue, and to assess clinical status and disability in these patients, calls for further assessment methods. In the present study, a multi-dimensional approach to the assessment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is evaluated. Two-hundred and ninety-eight patients with CFS completed a set of postal questionnaires that assessed the behavioural, emotional, social, and cognitive aspects of CFS. By means of statistical analyses nine relatively independent dimensions of CFS were identified along which CFS-assessment and CFS-research can be directed. These dimensions were named: psychological well-being, functional impairment in daily life, sleep disturbances, avoidance of physical activity, neuropsychological impairment, causal attributions related to the complaints, social functioning, self-efficacy expectations, and subjective experience of the personal situation. A description of the study sample on these dimensions is presented.