BACKGROUND: The objective of the present study was to examine the association of insight into the illness with demographic variables and symptomatology in a sample of 1213 patients with schizophrenia. METHOD: Data were collected with the Psychosis Evaluation tool for Common use by Caregivers (PECC), a semi-structured interview evaluating five symptom domains of schizophrenia and the insight items 'awareness of having a mental disorder' and 'attributing symptoms to a mental disorder'. RESULTS: Insight was positively associated with educational level and inversely with overall symptom severity, and the positive, negative, excitatory and cognitive symptom domains. At symptom level, the items 'delusions', 'grandiosity', 'poor rapport', 'social withdrawal' and 'guilt feelings' showed the strongest associations with both insight items. Overall, correlations between insight and symptomatology were modest, explaining less than 30% of the variance in insight. CONCLUSION: Lack of insight in schizophrenia is partially explained by clinical symptoms and demographic measures.