Individual and work-related risk factors in the development of occupational musculoskeletal complaints were investigated in a cross-sectional study of 52 female production workers and 34 female office workers. The work tasks of the production workers were considered to generate shoulder muscle loads of low amplitude and high repetitiveness, and the work tasks of the office workers, muscle loads of low amplitude and low repetitiveness. The symptom scores were similar in the two groups, with the highest score for both groups in the shoulder-neck region. Previous pain symptoms were an important risk factor for musculoskeletal pain in all body regions, whereas psychosocial problems at work were a risk factor for complaints in the shoulder-neck region. For the office workers, 27% of the variance in shoulder-neck symptoms was explained by the variance in the parameters "previous pain symptoms" and "psychosocial problems" in a multilinear regression model. In three groups of workers with different physical loads on the shoulder muscles the symptom scores for workers without previous pain symptoms and psychosocial problems were related to the physical load. For workers with previous pain symptoms and psychosocial problems, the symptom scores were high and similar for all three groups.