We evaluated the characteristics of headache in migraine without aura and episodic tension-type headache diagnosed according to the international Headache Society (IHS) Classification. Fifty migraine without aura and 50 tension-type headache patients were selected prospectively. Fifty-eight percent of migraineurs had pain of a pulsating quality; 88% had severe pain and 74% had unilateral pain; aggravation by routine physical activity was reported by 96%. Episodic tension-type headache was of a pressing quality in 52%, moderate in 40%, bilateral in 82% and aggravated by routine physical activity in 16%. Nausea and/or vomiting, photophobia and phonophobia were reported significantly more commonly in migraineurs than tension-type headache patients.