It is argued that the diagnosis of different types of eating disorders lacks either scientific validity or clinical utility, and that the forthcoming elaboration of diagnostic schemes (DSM-IV) is unlikely to improve matters. The central problem with the diagnosiscentred model of the eating disorders seems to be that it is based on an inappropriate model of clinical practice, focusing on syndromes rather than symptoms. However, it would be equally invalid to assume that there is little or no similarity across eatingdisorder sufferers, as suggested by an individual-centred model. Our understanding of the psychopathology and treatment of the eating disorders would benefit from employing a more clinically-appropriate model of practice—the ‘scientist practitioner’ model. Discarding specific diagnoses and using this model would help to make clinical practice and research in the eating disorders more mutually informative.