The syndrome is one of the most important concepts and ingredients in the theoretical and clinical research of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM doctors believe that all diseases are caused by an imbalance in the patient's body, which is called syndrome. All the therapies and formulas in TCM are decided according to the patients' syndrome situation. To quantitatively evaluate the level of syndrome, many statistical methodologies have been discussed in recent years. In this article, we introduce a second-order latent variable model to evaluate the level of patients' syndrome with many clinical symptoms. An objective evaluation score can be easily derived by the proposed model, with a high speed of convergence and without joint-distribution assumption. We illustrate the application of this model by an analysis of premenstrual disorder syndrome of liver-qi invasion syndrome evaluation research. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.