This study compares the demographic and clinical characteristics of homebound (HB) elders referred for psychiatric services (N = 251) with those of inpatients (IP) admitted to a geriatric psychiatry unit (N = 594). Demographically, HB patients were older (78.8 vs. 74.7 years), were more likely to be women (83% vs. 68%), were widowed (54% vs. 44%), and had fewer years of education (10.3 vs. 11.1), but were similar in race, income, and proportion living alone. Clinically, HB patients had less functional disability, less severe depression, less cognitive impairment, and fewer medical problems. However, they were similar in the distribution of most psychiatric diagnoses except dementia (higher in the IP group) and dementia with depression (higher in the HB group). Outcome data for the HB group over 15 (range, 1 to 38) months revealed medical hospitalization in 20.7%, psychiatric hospitalization in 16.3%, nursing home placement in 9.2%, and mortality in 8.4%. These preliminary data show that the HB group had psychiatric problems that were comparable to those of the IP group but were not as severely impaired.