Hirsutism is recognized to cause profound distress in affected women, due to cosmetic and psychosexual implications. It was evaluated in the present study by methods found to be valid and reliable in psychosomatic research. Fifty women with hirsutism belonging to the spectrum of disorders from idiopathic hirsutism to polycystic ovary syndrome, after complete medical work-up, underwent the same psychometric evaluation as 50 healthy non-hirsute women, matched for sociodemographic variables. Hirsute women had a Ferriman and Gallwey score ranging from 8 to 19. Psychometric evaluation for quality of life was carried out by the following methods: (a) Kellner's Brief Problem List, a 12 item self-rating list of psychosocial problems; (b) Kellner's Symptom Rating Test (SRT), a 46 item self-rating scale that yields a total score of distress as well as six subscales (anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms, anger-hostility, cognitive and psychotic symptoms); and (c) Marks' Social Situations Questionnaire (SSQ), a 30 item self-rating scale concerned with social phobia. Patients with hirsutism displayed significantly higher social fears at the SSQ than controls (P < 0.01). They also showed more anxiety (P < 0.01) and psychotic symptoms (P < 0.01) at the SRT, whereas there were no significant differences in depression, somatization, anger-hostility and cognitive symptoms. These results suggest that the complex management of hirsute women, in addition to pharmacological and/or cosmetic measures, may require specific psychotherapy.