The present study compared the number of severe life events and chronic adversities as reported retrospectively by mothers of children with an anxiety disorder (n=39) prior to the onset of their most recent episode, with controls (n=39) matched for age and sex. The parent version of the Psychosocial Assessment of Childhood Experiences (PACE) was used to assess chronic adversities (long-term experiences with negative impact on child) and severe life events (discrete life events with high long-term threat). A significantly greater number of severe life events and chronic adversities were assessed prior to onset for anxious children compared to controls. The finding for severe life events held regardless of whether impact ratings were assigned by mothers or a panel of independent raters, suggesting the findings reflect actual as opposed to perceived differences. Results suggest that both discrete and chronic stressors may constitute risk for future episodes of anxiety in children.