BACKGROUND: Stress has been recognized as a risk factor to various disorders including peptic ulcer disease. Life events are universal which everybody experiences. This study was done to find out whether stressful life events have a role in the development and exacerbation of peptic ulcer disease (PUD) and non-ulcer dyspepsia(NUD) comparing Lee's life stress scale between patients with gastroscopically proven PUD and NUD and those of control. METHODS: On hundred twenty two patients with PUD were studied at our institution from February 1, 1997 to June 30, 1997. Patients who experienced abdominal discomfort and found to have normal or chronic superficial gastritis by gastroscopic exam during the same period were selected for NUD group. Controls were selected from asymptomatic individuals who underwent upper gastrointestinal series procedure for a health screening. Stressful life events investigated were total, positive, and negative stresses measured by Lee's life stress scale(98 items), marital status, level of education, income, occupation, religion, history of cigarette smoking, and the amount of alcoholic consumption and were compared between the three groups. The data were analyzed by one way ANOVA and chi-square test. RESULTS: No statistically significant difference was found in total, positive, and negative stress scores between PUD group and NUD group, although they were significantly higher in PUD and NUD groups than those of the control group(p<0.05). Also statistically significant difference in income and occupation, tests and school, problems associated children and familial conflict were found between PUD group and the control group(p<0.05), as well as between NUD group and the control group(p<0.05). CONCLUSION: Stressful life events were associated with development of PUD and NUD.