Background: Neck pain, which is assumed to be a multifactorial disease, is a major problem in modern society. Methods: To identify the most important psychosocial risk factors for neck pain, a systematic review of the literature was carried out. The methodological quality of all studies in the review was assessed. Four levels of evidence were defined to assess the strength of evidence for potential risk factors for neck pain (strong, moderate, some or inconclusive evidence). Results: Some evidence was found for a positive relationship between neck pain and high quantitative job demands, low social (coworker) support, low job control, high and low skill discretion and low job satisfaction. Inconclusive evidence was found for high job strain, low supervisor support, conflicts at work, low job security, and limited rest break opportunities. Conclusion: The procedure of the assessment of the methodological quality and the rating system applied to distinguish between high- and low-score studies, had a considerable influence on the level of evidence, indicating that changes in this procedure may have a major impact on the overall conclusions of this review. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.