Between 1971 and 1984, 11 studies have examined patient and/or lay attitudes to electroconvulsive therapy. These investigations are reviewed here. They vary in sample size, response rates, and in the way attitudes were assessed. Although none have used properly validated measures, the uniformity of their findings provides a considerable degree of validation. Studies have been conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, Eire, Australia, and Uganda. In general, patients felt positively about the treatment, and for most subjects the benefit of the treatment outweighed the cost, in terms of apprehension, side effects, and stigma. For a small, but important, minority, this was not so, and such individuals report quite negative attitudes to ECT. All the studies reviewed have faults, and suggestions for further research are outlined.