The United Kingdom and the Netherlands differ significantly with respect to structure, policy, legislation and financing of their care delivery systems. Day care services for elderly people thus developed in considerably different policy and socio-historical contexts. In this article various aspects of day care in the two countries are compared. The most marked distinctions between the countries concern supply and distribution of services. The practice of day care, however, appears to be very similar, as indicated by similar objectives, care and activities, staffing and premises, and demographic, social and medical characteristics of users. Some differences are noted concerning problems with transport and organisational linkages of day care services. It is concluded that the supply and distribution of services are largely determined by government policy and that design, quality and day-today practice are primarily a consequence of professional standards and the needs of users and their relatives. Further, a new conceptualisation of day care is advocated: different terminology, more flexibility and a wider range of activities. Finally, the future contributions of day care within both countries' policy contexts are discussed.