Background Intensive care units (ICUs) are noisy environments, which may have negative psychological effects on nurses. Aims and objectives To investigate the effects of the noise level of ICUs on nurses' burnout, job satisfaction, anxiety, psychological symptoms and general psychopathology level. Design A descriptive and correlational study. Methods The study was conducted with 150 intensive care nurses. A Type 2250-L Bruel & Kj AE r hand-held sound level meter was used for noise measurement. A Nurse Information Form, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, Minnesora Satisfaction Questionnaire, Self-Report Inventory and Symptom Checklist-90 Revised were used for data collection. Results The highest levels of noise (71 dB(A) and above) were measured in the neonatal, neurology and cardiovascular surgery ICUs. It was observed that noise level affected extrinsic satisfaction (F = 3 center dot 704; p = 0 center dot 027) and trait anxiety (F = 3 center dot 868; p = 0 center dot 023) of nurses. Conclusions Noise levels in ICUs are well above the recommended levels, and this affects nurses' job satisfaction and anxiety levels. Relevance to clinical practice More studies on the effects of noise levels on the physical and mental states of nurses working in ICUs are needed. Increased quality of patient care can be achieved by providing healthy working conditions for nurses working in special units such as ICUs.