The degree of misplacement in the care organisation was studied in a repeated cross-sectional study (788 persons in 1993 and 1538 in 1988, 65 years and older) in Sundsvall, an industrial city in the middle of Sweden. The overall misplacements were 23% both in 1988 and 1993. Misplacements were most frequent in the homes for the aged (about 50%). At the nursing homes, misplacement decreased from 27 to 12% between 1988 and 1993, while it has increased in home care from 8 to 27%. Almost half of the misplacements in home care needed nursing home or psychogeriatric care. The main conclusion is that the care organisation is not working optimally. The number of misplacements reflects an exhausted care situation. The concept of misplacement is probably valuable, but its usefulness must be evaluated in further studies.