Abstract Aims To compare quality of life (QOL) for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) between the U.S. and Japan, it is indispensable to develop common instruments. The IBS-QOL, which is widely used in Western countries, was translated into Japanese as there has been a lack of Japanese disease-specific QOL measures for IBS. Methods The original 34 items of the IBS-QOL were translated from English into Japanese through two independent forward translations, resolution, back translation, and resolution of differences. Forty nine patients who had GI symptoms but did not have any organic diseases (including 30 IBS patients diagnosed by Rome II criteria) were recruited from Tohoku University Hospital in Sendai, Japan and completed a Japanese version of the IBS-QOL (IBS-QOL-J) concomitant with a Japanese version of the IBS severity index (IBSSI-J) twice within 7–14 days. Results The IBS-QOL-J demonstrated high internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha; 0.96) and high reproducibility (intraclass correlation coefficient; 0.92, p < 0.001). Convergent analyses confirmed that the overall score of IBS-QOL-J was significantly correlated with overall severity of IBS symptoms on the IBSSI-J (r = -0.36, p = 0.01) and with the individual items on the IBSSI-J that assess interference with life in general (r = -0.47, p = 0.001) and dissatisfaction with bowel habits (r = -0.32, p < 0.05). Eight patients who reported continuous abdominal pain in the past 6 months had significantly lower scores in the IBS-QOL-J than those who did not (53.7 +- 12.7 vs. 73.6 +- 19.5, p < 0.01). Age, sex, education or marital status did not affect scores on the measure. Conclusion The IBS-QOL-J is a reliable instrument to assess the disease-specific QOL for IBS. Considering cross-cultural comparison, this measure is likely to be a valuable tool to investigate the QOL in Japanese patients with IBS.