This retrospective study was conducted to explore rates, timing and predictors of two forms of premature termination of treatment (PTT) in an inpatient eating disorders programme: patient dropout (DO) and administrative discharge (AD). A chart review was conducted to obtain demographic, Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2), and Resident Assessment Instrument-Mental Health (RAI-MH) data for 186 patients being treated for bulimia nervosa (BN), anorexia nervosa (AN), or eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Overall, of the 37.6% of patients who terminated treatment prematurely, 22.1% of patients dropped out, and 15.5% of patients were administratively discharged. Time at which discharge occurred was found to be associated with the type of premature termination. The presence of DSM-IV Axis-I comorbidity was found to be the only factor associated with an increased risk of being administratively discharged. No factors were predictive of patients dropping out of treatment. The findings support the notion that AD and patient DO are different events that may have different factors influencing their rates and timing. Implications for future research and programme planning are discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.