Autogenic training (AT) is a widely available relaxation method with beneficial outcome on physiological and psychological functioning. In our study, we wanted to test the effects of an AT course in cognitively impaired, frail elderly. After a 3 month waiting period (control), AT courses (intervention) of 3 months duration were offered in 2 nursing homes. Thirty-two frail elderly took part in the study, 24 of them had a psychiatric diagnosis (mean age 82.1 +/- 7.2 years, CAMCOG 75.5 +/- 15.7, MMSE 23.3 +/- 4.3, HAMD 10.0 +/- 3.6, NOSGER 57.2 +/- 18.4, AT-SYM 32.9 +/- 17.6 points). Eight participants dropped out during the waiting period, 8 during the course. From the 16 participants, 15 (94%) were able to learn the AT according to subjective, 9 (54%) according to objective criteria. The ability to practice the AT successfully correlated with the CAMCOG (p = 0.001) and the NOSGER (p = 0.01) score. Participants with a dementia syndrome had major difficulties, whereas age, depressiveness, and number of complaints (AT-SYM) had no influence on the ability to learn the AT. There was no intervention effect, measured with the HAMD, NOSGER, AT-SYM and MMSE. In the pre-post comparison of training sessions, a significant improvement in general well being was found (p < 0.001). Mentally impaired, frail elderly participants are able to learn the AT. Cognitive impairment is disadvantageous for a successful participation.