Most of the patients who left the New York State hospitals during the past six years remained out for substantial periods of time. The length of time out of the hospitals was related to the length of stay in the hospitals only to a minor degree, but the length of time out was strongly related to the number of previous hospitalizations. Patients aged 16 to 64 years left much sooner and returned slightly sooner than the younger or older patients. Inpatient stays were shortened markedly from 1966 to 1971. The length of time out of the hospitals after inpatient stays also tended to decrease, but to a far lesser extent; 1971 showed an exception to the trend.