The National Institute of Mental Health developed the semi-structured Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies (DIGS) for the assessment of major mood and psychotic disorders and their spectrum conditions. The DIGS was translated into French in a collaborative effort of investigators from sites in France and Switzerland. Inter-rater and test-retest reliability of the French version have been established in a clinical sample in Lausanne. Excellent inter-rater reliability was found for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and unipolar schizoaffective disorder while fair inter-rater reliability was demonstrated for bipolar schizoaffective disorder. Using a six-week test-retest interval, reliability for all diagnoses was found to be fair to good with the exception of bipolar schizoaffective disorder. The lower test-retest reliability was the result of a relatively long test-retest interval that favored incomplete symptom recall. In order to increase reliability for lifetime diagnoses in persons not currently affected, best-estimate procedures using additional sources of diagnostic information such as medical records and reports from relatives should supplement DIGS information in family-genetic studies. Within such a procedure, the DIGS appears to be a useful part of data collection for genetic studies on major mood disorders and schizophrenia in French-speaking populations.