Ilza Veith was born in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and studied medicine in Geneva and Vienna. She married Hans von Valentini Veith in 1935. They emigrated to the USA in 1937. She became fluent in five languages, including Japanese and Chinese. She earned a master's degree at Johns Hopkins University in 1944. In 1947, she was awarded the first doctoral degree in the History of Medicine, then a new academic field, from the Institute for the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. In 1975, she received the Igaku hakase (M.D., D.M.S.) from Juntendo University in Tokyo. From 1949 to 1951, Dr. Veith was lecturer in the history of medicine at the University of Chicago, rising to become associate professor in 1963. That same year, she was named the Sloan Visiting Professor at the Meninger School of Psychiatry. In 1964, she went to the University of California at San Francisco as professor of the history of medicine and became vice-chair of the Department of the History of Medicine, a position she held until she became emeritus professor in 1979. She was also professor of the history of psychiatry from 1967 to 1979. She was a member of the American Association for the History of Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Royal Society of Medicine, Germany Society for the History of Medicine, Science and Technology, and an honorary fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. She contributed numerous scholarly articles and reviews to journals, and wrote several books, including Medicine in Tibet (1962), Hysteria: The History of a Disease (1965), and an historic translation of The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (1949). She also wrote a memoir of her 1964 experience with hemiplegic stroke called Can You Hear the Sound of One Hand Clapping? (1975).