Psychological and somatic symptoms presented by women in middle life are frequently attributed to the menopause. Many writers have questioned this assumption and have placed more emphasis on environmental and personality factors. Using a life event model and a multivariate analysis technique, life stress was shown to have a significantly more powerful influence on the elevation of symptoms in a normal population of women at that age than did the menopause. Furthermore, the elevation in symptoms occurred some considerable time before that event. The finding that there was no significant increase in total life stress at that time of life suggests the presence of a vulnerability or moderating factor.