Using the Community Placement Questionnaire, the long-stay populations of five hospitals were surveyed. The results suggest that there is little need for large hospitals if adequate community provision is made. However, a small number of patients continue to accumulate for whom community placement is hard to envisage. Investigating the characteristics of the 'new long-stay' patients suggests that the usual definition should be extended to include those over 65 years old with no diagnosis of dementia and those in hospital for 1-10 years. About 20% of 'new long-stay' patients have organic diagnoses and the needs of this group require assessment.