Non-esterified fatty acid and total and free tryptophan were determined in the plasma of psychiatric patients unselected with respect to psychiatric diagnosis and in the plasma of normal subjects before and after physiological and psychiatric tests. Retarded patients had significantly low total and free tryptophan values which correlated negatively with agitation. Total tryptophan fell significantly after testing in the non-retarded subjects. The only biochemical abnormality significantly associated with a diagnosis of primary depression was the rise of plasma non-esterified fatty acid after testing. Thus, tryptophan abnormalities were associated more with psychiatric rating scores than with diagnoses.