BACKGROUND Diagnostic and conceptual issues relating to psychopathy are widely debated, but advances in our understanding of the aetiology are limited.
METHOD A PSYCHLIT computerised database search of publications covering five decades was supplemented by tracing back through references from existing review work.
RESULTS Over 200 articles were extracted, and 95 were selected for review.
CONCLUSIONS It is timely to evaluate the r√¥le of brain dysfunction. Biological determinants are under-researched and the lack of consistency in operational definitions in published research precludes anything more than tentative conclusions about the genetic, biochemical or electrophysiological correlates of psychopathy and antisocial behaviour. A multi-modal research programme is required in the search for a comprehensive model of psychopathy that can guide both research efforts and clinical interventions.