We evaluated all 107 chronic in-patients in a catchment area before and 6 years after a planned reduction in the number of psychiatric institution beds was implemented. At follow-up, 32 of the patients had died. One had probably committed suicide, while the others were elderly people who had died of natural causes. In the remaining patients the level of functioning was low, and below that which could be deduced from their level of symptoms, which was also low. The majority of the patients still lived in institutions, mostly in general nursing homes. Among those who had moved out, there were non-significant trends towards a reduction in symptoms and an increase in functioning. In general, the patients were satisfied with their new accommodation. Most of them needed extensive help and support to establish an acceptable standard of living in the community.