Medical, psychiatric and social outcome were examined in medical in-patients previously identified as suffering from psychiatric disorder. One third of patients with an affective (emotional) disorder on admission were still psychiatrically ill four months after discharge. Persistent disorder was associated with continuing physical illness. During the year following admission those with affective disorder on admission continued to make greater demands on medical, social and psychiatric services than matched controls and had double the mortality rate (not significant). Patients with organic mental states on admission had a high mortality and morbidity, and made considerable continuing use of general hospital social and psychiatric services. Improved recognition of psychiatric disorder during hospital admission could result in better overall care of medical patients' psychiatric and social difficulties and more effective use of medical resources.