Studies on chronic pancreatitis have focused predominantly on pain measurement, morbidity, and mortality. In this prospective follow-up study the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) quality of life questionnaire (QLQ) was reevaluated for patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis. Pain intensity was quantified using a specially designed pain score. Twenty-five patients with chronic pancreatitis underwent duodenum-preserving pancreatic head resection. The QLQ, Spitzer's quality of life index, and the pain score were assessed twice before surgery, before discharge, and 6 and 18 months after surgery. The interscale reliability (Cronbach's coefficient alpha > or = 0.70) was confirmed for all multiitem scales except preoperative working ability. Test-retest stability for the QLQ was 94%. The QLQ correlated closely with Spitzer's quality of life index (r = 0.985, p < 0.001) and changes in body weight (r = 0.764, p < 0.001). After 18 months physical status, working ability, emotional and social functioning, and global quality of life had improved by 44, 50, 50, 60, and 67%, respectively, showing good responsiveness of the QLQ. The pain score decreased by 95% (p < 0.001). The EORTC quality of life questionnaire represents a reliable and valid measure of quality of life in patients with chronic pancreatitis.