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This study surveys Vietnamese refugees attending two psychiatric clinics to determine both the prevalence of panic disorder (PD) as well as panic attack subtypes in those suffering PD. A culturally valid adaptation of the SCID-panic module (the Vietnamese Panic Disorder Survey or VPDS) was administered to 100 Vietnamese refugees attending two psychiatric clinics. Utilizing culturally sensitive panic probes, the VPDS provides information regarding both the presence of PD and panic attack subtypes during the month prior to interview. Of 100 patients surveyed, 50 (50%) currently suffered PD. Among the 50 patients suffering PD, the most common panic attack subtypes during the previous month were the following: "orthostatic dizziness" (74% of the 50 panic disorder patients PDPs), headache (50% of PDPs), wind-induced/temperature-shift-induced (24% of PDPs), effort-induced (18% of PDPs), gastro-intestinal (16% of PDPs), micturition-induced (8% of PDPs), out-of-the-blue palpitations (24% of PDPs), and out-of-the-blue shortness of breath (16% of PDPs). Five mechanisms are adduced to account for this high PD prevalence as well as the specific profile of subtypes: 1) a trauma-caused panic attack diathesis; 2) trauma-event cues; 3) ethnic differences in physiology; 4) catastrophic cognitions generated by cultural syndromes; and 5) a modification of Clark's spiral of panic.