The validity of the simple dichotomy between positive and negative symptoms was examined by reanalysing the results of published studies using global ratings from Andreasen's SAPS and SANS. Global ratings from our own sample of 114 diagnostically heterogenous psychotic patients were also analysed. In none of the studies was a simple positive-negative dichotomy an adequate representation of symptom structure. The most commonly occurring structure consisted of three independent groups: Hallucinations/Delusions, Positive Thought Disorder and Negative Symptoms. These findings applied to both manic and schizophrenic groups of patients. An important implication of these results for future studies is that combining positive symptoms into a single scale is inappropriate because possibly differential relationships between Hallucinations/Delusions and Thought Disorder and a variety of external measures may be obscured by such a means of data reduction.