This study evaluated the course of psychological variables during a 2-year follow-up in patients after common whiplash of the cervical spine. From a sample of 117 non-selected patients with common whiplash (investigated on average 7.2 +/- 4.2 days after trauma) a total of 21 suffered trauma-related symptoms over 2 years following initial injury. These patients (symptomatic group) were compared with 21 age, gender and education pair-matched patients, who showed complete recovery from trauma-related symptoms during the 2-year follow-up (asymptomatic group). Both groups underwent standardised testing procedures (i.e., Freiburg Personality Inventory and Well-Being Scale) at referral, and at 3, 6 and 24 months. In the symptomatic group during follow-up no significant changes in rating of neck pain or headache were found. Significant differences between the groups and significant deviation of scores over time were found on the Well-Being and Nervousness Scales. There was a lack of significant difference between the groups on the Depression Scale, indicating a possible somatic basis for changes in psychological functioning in the investigated sample. With regard to scales of Extraversion or Neuroticism, there were neither significant differences between the groups nor significant deviation over time. These results highlight that patients' psychological problems are rather a consequence than a cause of somatic symptoms in whiplash.