OBJECTIVE: The authors evaluated emotion perception in acutely ill patients experiencing a first episode of schizophrenia. They also investigated the effects of antipsychotic medication on emotion perception. METHOD: Tests of the ability to perceive and discriminate emotional expressions from the Penn Computerized Neuropsychological Battery were given to 13 patients experiencing their first episode of schizophrenia. Patients were also assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. The patients were tested while they were unmedicated and again following clinical stabilization. Healthy individuals were evaluated over a similar time interval. RESULTS: Patients with first-episode schizophrenia demonstrated impairments in emotion perception before treatment and no significant improvement after treatment. Emotion perception deficits were correlated with negative symptoms after clinical stabilization. CONCLUSIONS: Deficits in emotion perception are present at illness onset in schizophrenia and show minimal response to effective antipsychotic treatment.