A sociological discussion of the disease/deviant behaviour controversy. In sociological literature the state of ill health is essentially conceptualized in terms of deviant behaviour, mainly as a result of Talcott Parsons’s social systemic theory and his work in this regard. In recent years this conceptualization of ill health has been subjected to close sociological scrutiny. One of the objections raised against this concept is that it gives rise to conceptual ambiguity, especially as the term ‘deviant behaviour’ has gained a more specific connotation in sociological literature. This article aims at elucidating the concepts ‘ill health’ and ‘deviant behaviour’ by comparing them with reference to two prominent models. The first comparison is made in terms of the social systemic model where both ill health and deviant behaviour are conceptualized as the violation of norms. The second comparison is made in terms of the labelling model, in which both relevant phenomena are conceptualized as the result of a social labelling process. In both models fundamental differences exist regarding ill health and deviant behaviour which necessitates more precise conceptualization of both phenomena.