The aim of the present study was to investigate whether individuals with panic disorder are characterised by an enhanced tendency to associate particular somatic sensations with threatening outcomes, compared with nonclinical controls. In order to test this prediction, a modified lexical decision task was employed. Panic disorder subjects and nonclinical control subjects made lexical decisions to neutral word pairs and threatening word pairs. Threatening word pairs consisted of combinations of somatic sensations and catastrophic outcomes (e.g., breathless-suffocate), which have been shown to be of salience to individuals with panic disorder. Semantic priming was found for both neutral and threatening word pairs, but was demonstrated equally by panic disorder subjects and nonclinical controls. The results did not provide support for cognitive models of panic disorder.