The drugs prescribed to 241 general hospital psychiatric unit inpatients were surveyed at the time of admission and discharge. Sixty-three per cent of patients were prescribed psychotropic drugs on admission, compared to 68% on discharge. There was a significant reduction in patients prescribed minor tranquillisers from 23% to 8%, and an increase in those prescribed tricyclic antidepressants from 26% to 42%. Compared to previous surveys of psychiatric hospital populations, fewer general hospital psychiatric patients were prescribed medications overall, less neuroleptics and less anti-parkinsonian agents were used, but more patients were treated with antidepressant medication. This reflects a different patient population. An analysis such as this allows prescriptions of psychotropic drugs to be compared with the recommended regimes suggested in the literature, as well as comparisons of drug usage between different units and hospitals.