The purpose of this study was to provide information regarding the criteria used by women with binge eating disorder (BED) to classify an eating episode a binge. Method: Sixty women who met DSM-IV research criteria for BED were interviewed and asked to define binge eating in their own words. Two independent raters classified subjects' responses according to a structured classification scheme. Results: Loss of control over eating was the only criterion used to define binge eating by a majority (82%) of our subjects. Large amount of food and eating to relieve negative affect were reported less frequently, but appeared to be important criteria. Discussion: The findings from this study are important to consider in an evaluation of the proposed DSM-IV research criteria for BED. © 1998 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 24: 313–317, 1998.