Beliefs about symptoms, food and health, mood disturbance, consulting behavior, and eating habits and attitudes were assessed by postal questionnaire in 273 adults who complained of food intolerance in a community study. In contrast to previous studies conducted in allergy clinics, most subjects who reported symptoms related to foods that were judged not to be allergic on clinical grounds did not manifest significant mood disturbance, impaired social adjustment, or excessive consultation for other nonspecific physical or psychological symptoms. Subjects attributing symptoms to food sensitivity suffered less psychological impairment than those attributing symptoms to other causes such as stress, stomach or bowel disorder, or food contamination. However, an important subgroup of patients did report marked impact of symptoms on everyday life, frequent consultation in traditional and complementary medical contexts, and appreciable mood disturbance. The reported association between perceived food intolerance and psychiatric disorder in allergy clinic patients is likely to be an artifact of referral bias.