Objectives: To determine the psychological characteristics of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the associated stressful life events. Methods: This preliminary study was conducted on 247 consecutive patients with IBS, who were seen in a Gastroenterology Clinic in Sana'a over a three year period. Their ages ranged from 18 to 62 years in men and from 18 to 64 years in women. Patients were diagnosed as having IBS if they had abdominal pain at any site accompanied by abdominal distension and altered bowel habit for which no pathological explanation could be found. Neurotic disorders and stressful life events were diagnosed according to standardized questionnaires. Data was collected on specially designed records for computer analysis. Results: Constipation-predominant IBS was observed to be more frequent among women compared with men (p<0.001): whereas diarrhea-predominant form was noticed to be more frequent among men than in women (p=0.02). Neurotic or minor affective disorders were found in 93.1% of all IBS patients with no significant sex difference. The existence of one or more stressful life events was noticed among 84.6% of all IBS patients. Mean rank sum for stress index scores was found to be significantly higher in women compared with men (p<0.0001). Conclusions: It can he concluded from this study that stressful life events were associated with IBS in most patients, especially women, and that minor affective disorders have characterized the majority of IBS patients regardless of gender.