Although large numbers of criminal defendants are being sent to Massachusetts hospitals for pre-trial observation by the courts, few are indefinitely committed in a criminal status. This paper has reported procedures and data from one Massachusetts state hospital and preliminary findings from a second which indicate that the issue of competence for trial has not been well understood by psychiatrists and has been confused with committability and criminal responsibility. This is in agreement with studies in the state of Michigan (7) and in the federal system(11).An attempt has been made to define competency for trial although it is acknowledged that further research in the area is needed. The findings do not establish that unnecessary indefinite pre-trial commitments are taking place in these hospitals. They do indicate that these commitments tend to be prolonged, that a significant percentage of the criminally committed could stand trial and that this is in their best interest.