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Anxiety, fear and pain play an important role in the context of dental treatment and patients' well-being. The Fear of Pain Questionnaire (FPQ)-III is a recently developed self-report questionnaire measuring pain-related fear of a variety of painful stimuli. The present study was undertaken in order to develop a dental equivalent of the FPQ-III, called the Fear of Dental Pain questionnaire (FDP), to determine standard psychometric characteristics and to assess the instruments' validity. Four experienced dentists generated the initial pool of items and two methodologists constructed the initial questionnaire. Two studies were performed. In the study one, a sample of psychology freshmen (n = 309) was taken in order to analyse response patterns. In study two, a sample (n = 176) of patients, dental students and the general population was examined. Results from both studies were used to determine reliability and validity. High internal consistency (0.93) with satisfactory test–retest reliability (0.75) was obtained. Factor analysis revealed a strong one-dimensional factor underlying almost all items. Finally, the proposed FDP version was related to a measure of dental fear and a general measure of fear of pain. All a priori hypotheses were confirmed, thereby providing evidence for the validity of the FDP. The FPD may prove to be a clinically useful tool in the dental setting, and a potentially important covariate in dental pain perception research.