The effect of in-patient and individual orientated psychosocial intervention (IPI) and in-patient and individual and family orientated intervention (IPFI) across levels of expressed emotion (EE) on relapse was compared in a group of patients with recent onset schizophrenic disorders. Patients were randomly assigned to an individual orientated psychosocial intervention programme or to an identical psychosocial programme plus a behavioural family intervention. Seventy-six patients were studied during a 12 month out-patient treatment period after an in-patient treatment programme in which parents followed a psychoeducational programme. Overall relapse rates during the out-patient interventions were low (16%). Adding family intervention to the psychosocial intervention did not affect the relapse rate. Patients in low EE families relapsed slightly more often during the psychosocial plus family intervention. In-patient treatment with psychoeducation for parents, followed by an out-patient psychosocial intervention programme, has a favourable impact on relapse. Additional family intervention may increase stress in low EE families, thus affecting relapse in their children.