The present study was designed to examine previous pain experiences as they relate to expectations of postoperative pain. In the study, 101 patients aged 55-87 (47 men, 54 women) participated in a structured interview that examined 13 factors thought to be associated with presurgical expectations of postsurgical pain. These factors relating to prior pain experience were identified from the literature as well as the experience of clinicians in the areas of anesthesiology, nursing and psychology. The two variables that correlated significantly (multiple r = 0.51) with pain expected postoperatively were: a single item from the general attitude questionnaire about pain (pain is to be expected after surgery even with medicine) and the total of the global ratings of past pain experience. A follow-up study will examine these variables in relation to actual pain experience.