This article presents two empirical investigations of how patients communicate about their illness. A review of the literature on provider-patient communication is offered. From this review, we conclude that we know intuitively more about the interaction between health care providers and their patients than the research literature has revealed. A series of research questions are advanced concerning the patient's communicative contributions to the provider-patient relationship. The first study offers evidence of distinct patient-communication typologies. How patients communicate about their illness is also closely related to how they utilize the health care system. The second study uses independent raters to validate patient self-reports about their communication behavior. The findings suggest that how patients communicate to health care providers is a factor worthy of further study. Several specific avenues for future research are discussed in light of these findings.