This study uses the prospectively gathered data of the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program, a multi-site interview survey of mental disturbances among adult household residents in the United States, to compare health services use by individuals with different sociodemographic characteristics, accounting for the first-time occurrence of psychiatric disorder, over the course of a 1-year follow-up interval. Case ascertainment was by means of a standardized interview method, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule. In the present investigation, 13,400 continuing participants in the household sample who reported no contact with mental health services in the 6 months prior to the initial interview were studied with regard to health services use and sociodemographic characteristics. Separately, and before the mental health assessments were made, respondents were asked about their use of health and mental health services. African-Americans were significantly less likely than whites to have consulted with a specialist in mental health (estimated relative odds, 0.22, 95% confidence interval 0.10 to 0.52), even accounting for coincident psychiatric disorder, gender, and other covariates known to be associated with differential use of health care services. Hispanics and other minorities were also less likely to have consulted a specialist in mental health (estimated relative odds, 0.37 and 0.26, respectively). This large community study extends previous work on mental health services and ethnicity.