PURPOSE: We quantified differences in somatic and visceral sensation in healthy subjects and subjects with interstitial cystitis (IC). MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 13 subjects with IC and 13 healthy subjects answered psychological questionnaires and underwent psychophysical testing of thermal and pressure thresholds for sensation as well as the ischemic forearm test of pain tolerance. A subset of subjects also underwent bladder sensory testing with the determination of 3 consecutive cystometrograms. Ratings of intensity and unpleasantness were determined. RESULTS: Subjects with IC were significantly more sensitive to deep tissue measures of sensation related to pressure, ischemia and bladder than healthy subjects. Cutaneous thermal pain measures were similar in the 2 groups. Psychological measures indicated higher reactivity in subjects with IC. CONCLUSIONS: Similar to other visceral pain disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, hypersensitivity to somatic stimuli was noted in subjects with IC. This suggests altered central mechanisms in the processing of sensory events from the bladder.