Consciousness and emotion feature prominently in our personal lives, yet remain enigmatic. Recent advances prompt further distinctions that should provide more experimental traction: we argue that emotion consists of an emotion state (functional aspects, including emotional response) as well as feelings (the conscious experience of the emotion), and that consciousness consists of level (e.g. coma, vegetative state and wakefulness) and content (what it is we are conscious of). Not only is consciousness important to aspects of emotion but structures that are important for emotion, such as brainstem nuclei and midline cortices, overlap with structures that regulate the level of consciousness. The intersection of consciousness and emotion is ripe for experimental investigation, and we outline possible examples for future studies.