Psychiatric status and psychosocial variables were assessed in a group of 80 unemployed men. Symptoms of depression and anxiety were assessed using the Present State Examination and 'caseness' rated according to the Bedford College criteria. Among men who were normal at the time of job loss, 14% developed a 'case' disorder and a further 17% a 'borderline case' disorder over the first 6 months of unemployment. These rates are similar to those found in studies concerned with a wider range of severe life events. An increased risk of onset was associated with three factors: lack of an intimate relationship with a wife or girlfriend, trait shyness, and pre-existing economic difficulties.