The purpose of this study was to test the ability of Corah's Dental Anxiety Scale (DAS) and Spielberger's State Anxiety Inventory (STAI-S) to distinguish between fearful (n = 145) and regularly attending (n = 156) Norwegian dental patients. The reliability of both instruments was high (Cronbach's alpha indices > 0.95). With DAS, 90% of the fearful patients and 85% of the reference patients were correctly assigned to their appropriate group. Thus it may be concluded that, when used on a Norwegian population, DAS is a valid instrument for distinguishing fearful patients from those regularly attending dental treatment. The corresponding figures for STAI-S were 80% for the fearful patients and 79% for the reference patients. Although not developed specifically for this purpose, this instrument may therefore still validly be used to distinguish between the groups. The correlation between the instruments was 0.76, indicating that to some extent they measure the same phenomenon.