This article addresses the issues of recognition of psychiatric disorders by general physicians (GPs) and the effects of recognition on management and course. Among 1994 patients who were screened with the General Health Questionnaire and who were rated by their GP, 1450 (72.7%) had not been identified by the GP as having a psychiatric disorder in the year before the index visit. Among these "new" patients, 557 (38.4%) had positive General Health Questionnaire scores. Only 47% of the new patients who met Bedford College diagnostic criteria for anxiety, depression, or ill-defined disorder had their psychiatric disorder recognized by their GP. Among patients who met Bedford College criteria, mean episode durations were longer for anxiety disorders (20 to 22 months) than for depressive disorders (9 to 10 months). Among the new patients, those with psychiatric disorders recognized by the GP were more likely to receive mental health interventions. Recognition was associated with shorter episode duration among patients with an anxiety disorder, but not among patients with depressive or ill-defined disorders.