As part of the exploratory work for a project on discharge planning of elderly people (75 + years of age) from acute care, the concept of risk was discussed with a sample of consultants; ward sisters; staff nurses; a social worker; occupational therapist; pharmacist; and some physiotherapists. The factors which they identified as being relevant to ‘risky discharges’ were organized under seven headings: medical factors; mobility; social surroundings; personality; habits; social support; and external factors. These findings are presented within the context of a review of relevant literature and some conclusions are drawn.