Patients with IBD who are apparently in remission - as indicated by normal blood tests, endoscopic findings and ultrasonography results - often continue to experience symptoms. Furthermore, despite these negative findings, there is a temptation to increase their anti-inflammatory medication in the hope that this approach would lead to some improvement. However, this strategy often seems to fail and can sometimes lead to adverse events. Consequently, when evidence of continuing inflammatory activity is lacking it might be appropriate to consider the possibility of co-existent IBS in these patients and to treat them for this condition. Dietary manipulation, antispasmodic agents, antidepressants (especially of the tricyclic variety) and even behavioural treatments might result in a worthwhile improvement of symptoms. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.