A significant number of patients with anorexia nervosa have to be transferred from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to adult services. CAMHS and adult services differ in terms of therapeutic approach and the availability of specialist treatment. CAMHS treatment is often based around family interventions, which aim to help parents take control of their child's eating, and patients are often encouraged to ‘externalise’ the illness. Adult treatment tends to be based around individual therapy, and the patient is encouraged to take personal responsibility for change. The place of inpatient treatment is generally accepted for adults but there is uncertainty about its effectiveness for adolescents. Young people may find it difficult to negotiate the transition between services, and CAMHS and adult services need to work more closely together. Transitions should be carefully planned, with thorough preparation of both patients and their families. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.