The fact that many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have an infectious like sudden onset to their illness has led to the hypothesis that CFS is a medical illness. If CFS were, on the other hand, a psychiatric disorder related to symptom amplification, one would expect illness onset to occur randomly over the calendar year. This study tested that hypothesis with 69 CFS patients whose illness was on the more severe side of the illness spectrum; all patients reported sudden illness onset with the full syndrome of sore throat, fatigue/malaise, and diffuse achiness developing over no longer than a 2-day period. Date of illness onset was distinctly nonrandom. It peaked from November through January and was at its lowest from April through May. These data support the hypothesis that an infectious illness can trigger the onset of CFS.