Objectives: Idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI) has in cross-sectional studies been associated with emotional problems and psychiatric disorders. However, in the absence of prospective studies it has not been possible to determine whether emotional problems precede the onset of IEI, or are a consequence of IEI. The purpose of this study was to address this issue in a prospective panel study design. Methods: The study sample (n=10 275) responded to a postal survey that included five questions regarding annoyance from environmental factors, at baseline and at follow-up five years later. Associations between a number of self-rating scales of stress, subjective health, and working conditions at baseline on one hand, and development of environmental annoyance from baseline to follow-up on the other, were examined. Results: Participants having developed environmental annoyance between baseline and follow-up had at baseline reported more subjective health complaints, higher levels of stress, strain, and lack of recovery, more dissatisfaction with their work situation, and lower personal social support, compared to participants not developing environmental annoyance. Conclusion: Elevated subjective health complaints, high stress in daily life and a strained work situation, all possible signs of sustained arousal, increase the risk of developing annoyance to environmental factors. The results fit the hypothesis that reduced subjective health, over the course of time, may be attributed to environmental factors. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.