OBJECTIVE: Recognition of facial emotion was examined in manic subjects to explore whether aberrant interpersonal interactions are related to impaired perception of social cues. METHOD: Manic subjects with bipolar I disorder (N=8), euthymic subjects with bipolar I (N=8) or bipolar II (N=8) disorder, and healthy comparison subjects (N=10) matched pictures of faces to the words "fear," "disgust," "anger," "sadness," "surprise," and "happiness." RESULTS: The manic subjects showed worse overall recognition of facial emotion than all other groups. They showed worse recognition of fear and disgust than the healthy subjects. The euthymic bipolar II disorder subjects showed greater fear recognition than the manic and euthymic bipolar I disorder subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Impaired perception of facial emotion may contribute to behaviors in mania. Impaired recognition of fear and disgust, with relatively preserved recognition of other basic emotions, contrasts with findings for depression and is consistent with a mood-congruent positive bias.