The authors compared characteristics of 27 older men who perpetrated a spousal homicide-suicide and 36 age-matched married men who committed suicide in west central Florida between 1988 and 1994. Data were collected as part of an ongoing retrospective study of homicide and suicide among older adults in Florida. Men who committed suicide had significantly more disease conditions than homicide-suicide perpetrators (P<0.0001). Half of the latter were in caregiving roles, vs. 17% of the suicides (chi(2)=5.40; P=0.027). Depression was a prominent premorbid feature of both groups, but none of the perpetrators tested positive for antidepressants postmortem.