Few studies have directly compared the clinical features of neuropathic and non-neuropathic pains. For this purpose, the French Neuropathic Pain Group developed a clinician-administered questionnaire named DN4 consisting of both sensory descriptors and signs related to bedside sensory examination. This questionnaire was used in a prospective study of 160 patients presenting with pain associated with a definite neurological or somatic lesion. The most common aetiologies of nervous lesions (n=89) were traumatic nerve injury, post herpetic neuralgia and post stroke pain. Non-neurological lesions (n=71) were represented by osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthropathies and mechanical low back pain. Each patient was seen independently by two experts in order to confirm the diagnosis of neuropathic or non-neuropathic pain. The prevalence of pain descriptors and sensory dysfunctions were systematically compared in the two groups of patients. The analysis of the psychometric properties of the DN4 questionnaire included: face validity, inter-rater reliability, factor analysis and logistic regression to identify the discriminant properties of items or combinations of items for the diagnosis of neuropathic pain. We found that a relatively small number of items are sufficient to discriminate neuropathic pain. The 10-item questionnaire developed in the present study constitutes a new diagnostic instrument, which might be helpful both in clinical research and daily practice.