The present policy of reducing the number of patients in hospitals for the mentally handicapped involves the discharge of many patients to residential care outside hospital. This paper considers 89 patients discharged from a hospital in the five years 1971–75. 64 (70%) went to facilities controlled by the Social Services Department, ten to other residential homes, eleven to lodgings and four to other institutions. Thirty five (40%) were subnormal (WAIS Full Scale IQ 55–69); the remainder, an unexpectedly high proportion, severely subnormal (WAIS Full Scale IQ, under 55). The majority of the patients discharged were the normal-looking mentally handicapped, few of whom had a specific cause for their condition. The suitability of patients for discharge in relation to the services available was more relevant than their ages or their years in hospital.