We have examined a structural variant of the 5-HT2C receptor (Cys23Ser) for allelic association with bipolar affective disorder in 88 cases and 113 controls. Overall, there was no significant difference in allele frequencies between the two groups, indicating that the 5-HT2C gene is not a major risk factor for bipolar affective disorder. However, when the subjects were analysed according to sex, there was a small excess of the serine ser23 allele in female cases (P = 0.04) and this effect was also seen if the ser23 allele was considered recessive (P = 0.03). A small increase in significance was found if only female cases with a known family history were included (P = 0.01). These results suggest that the ser23 allele may increase susceptibility to bipolar affective disorder in women.