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Impaired emotion perception is documented for schizophrenia, but findings have been mixed for bipolar disorder. In healthy samples females perform better than males. This study compared emotion perception in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and investigated the effects of gender.Visual (facial pictures) and auditory (sentences) emotional stimuli were presented for identification and discrimination in groups of participants with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and healthy controls.Visual emotion perception was unimpaired in both clinical groups, but the schizophrenia sample showed reduced auditory emotion perception. Healthy males and male schizophrenia subjects performed worse than their female counterparts, whereas there were no gender differences within the bipolar group.A disease-specific auditory emotion processing deficit was confirmed in schizophrenia, especially for males. Participants with bipolar disorder performed unimpaired.