In a replication of an earlier published study, case notes of 75 elderly in-patients with bipolar affective disorder were examined. Few of the patients had experienced a manic episode before the age of 40. Mean age of onset of affective disorder was 46 years, and first manic episode at 60 years. Cerebral insults before the first manic attacks were recorded in a substantial number of cases, and a family history of mental illness was less common among this group. Bipolar affective disorder is relatively common as a reason for admission of elderly patients.