The purpose of the present study was to assess patients' anxiety level and information requirement in the preoperative phase. During routine preoperative screening, 320 patients were asked to assess their anxiety and information requirement on a six-item questionnaire, the Amsterdam Preoperative Anxiety and Information Scale (APAIS). Two hundred patients also completed Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-State). Patients were able to complete the questionnaire in less than 2 min. On factor analysis, two factors emerged clearly: anxiety and the need for information. The anxiety scale correlated highly (0.74) with the STAI-State. It emerged that 32% of the patients could be considered as "anxiety cases" and over 80% of patients have a positive attitude toward receiving information. Moreover, results demonstrated that 1) women were more anxious that men; 2) patients with a high information requirement also had a high level of anxiety; 3) patients who had never undergone an operation had a higher information requirement than those who had. The APAIS can provide anesthesiologists with a valid, reliable, and easily applicable instrument for assessing the level of patients' preoperative anxiety and the need for information.