It has been argued that some of the difficulties in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) personality disorders might be overcome by examining their association with measures of general personality such as the Neuroticism, Extroversion and other Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) model. The study explored associations between the NEO-FFI and DSM personality disorder in 85 male offenders referred to a personality disorder unit. Although simple correlation showed the expected associations, multivariate canonical correlation revealed more complex and novel associations such as the finding that borderline personality disorder has a more robust conceptual relationship than antisocial personality disorder with the NEO-FFI. Overall, the NEO-FFI can be used to conceptualize most DSM personality disorders. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.