Clozapine, an antipsychotic agent of the dibenzodiazepine class, is characterised by relatively weak central dopaminergic activity and displays atypical pharmacological and clinical properties in relation to the classic antipsychotics. Clinical studies have shown clozapine to be effective in suppressing both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia and to be associated with an extremely low incidence of extrapyramidal side effects. Clozapine has been shown to be of comparable, or on some criteria superior, therapeutic efficacy to perphenazine, levomepromazine, haloperidol and chlorpromazine in several short term comparative studies in patients with schizophrenia of predominantly acute symptomatology. Moreover, clozapine is effective in a substantial proportion (30 to 50%) of schizophrenic patients who are refractory to or intolerant of classic antipsychotic therapy. Despite its promising therapeutic potential, the relatively high incidence of clozapine-induced agranulocytosis (1 to 2% of patients) is a major factor restricting the drug's wider use in psychiatric practice. In accordance with current guidelines, clozapine therapy, performed in conjunction with close haematological monitoring, is indicated for the management of severe and chronic schizophrenia refractory to classic antipsychotic therapy, and in those unable to tolerate such therapy. In such appropriately selected patients, clozapine represents an important alternative to the classic antipsychotics.