Manneristic catatonia, one form of Leonhard's systematic schizophrenias, is illustrated in nine case notes. The essential syndrome of this rare disorder (described by Leonhard in the preneuroleptic era) consisted in mannerisms and progressive stiffness of psychomotor activity. Mannerisms often developed from obsessive and compulsive ideas; whereas distress disappeared, repetitive behavior developed into a stereotype. Complex movements (e.g. not to shake hands; mutism) became mannerisms. With disease progression stiffness of facial expression and gestures and an impairment of voluntary motor activity became increasingly prominent. There were no signs of (neuroleptic-induced) parkinsonism. Manneristic catatonia affects preponderantly men and exhibits an early age of onset (median: 23 years). In none of the cases a family history of psychiatric illness was noted. Severe obstetric and birth complications as well as the high prevalence of supratentorial and cerebellar CT/MR abnormalities in this patient group point to deviations of prenatal brain maturation. The median yearly dose of neuroleptics was 83.1 g chlorpromazin equivalents. The characteristic psychopathology was not essentially influenced by modern psychopharmacological treatment neither in the beginning nor in the long run irrespective of the time of onset of the disease. Continuous high-dose neuroleptic treatment is not efficacious in this distinct group of systematic schizophrenias. Behavioural training in a rehabilitation unit is the treatment of choice from the early beginning.