The hypothesis was investigated that more accurate perception of heartbeats by patients with panic disorder is an artefact of arousal. Twenty-three patients with panic disorder, 16 patients with a mood disorder and 21 normal controls were tested. There were more panic patients who accurately perceived their heart rates (N = 7) than depressed patients (N = 0) or normals (N = 2). The nine accurate perceivers had higher scores on questionnaires measuring the cognitions associated with panic. For non-accurate perceivers, perceived heart rates were unrelated to actual heart rates, unrelated to cognitive factors, but significantly related to arousal. It is concluded that the accurate perception of heartbeats by patients with panic disorder is both fact and artefact: some patients are accurate perceivers, but the majority are not.