Background/Aims Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most frequently observed disorders by primary care and practitioners. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of IBS using the Rome II and III criteria in the general Korean population and also to compare sociodemographic differences between subjects diagnosed by these criteria. Methods Telephone interview surveys were performed with a total of 1,009 individuals in Korea, 15 years of age or older. The questionnaire, based on the Rome II and III criteria, was validated. Results Among the 1,009 subjects, the prevalence of IBS was 8.0% under the Rome II criteria (81 subjects; 6.4%, male; 9.6%, female), and 9.0% (91 subjects; 7.0%, male; 11.0%, female) under the Rome III criteria. The accordance rate of Rome II and III was 73.5%. Both groups showed highest frequency in the age of 30s (13.9% vs. 15.3% respectively). Female subjects showed a higher prevalence than male subjects under Rome III (91 subjects; 11.0% in female, 7.0% in male; p < 0.05), but not under Rome II criteria. Many patients older than 50 years were added when analyzed under the Rome III criteria, but not under the Rome II criteria (p = 0.017). Conclusions The Rome III criteria were less restrictive and showed good agreement with the Rome II criteria. The prevalence of IBS was increased in young women.