This study of elderly patients discharged from hospital looked at the effect of a self medication (SM) scheme on compliance with drug regimens. Patients from four medical wards for the elderly were recruited. Those from two wards participated in a SM scheme (18 subjects). Patients from the other wards (15) acted as controls. Two weeks after discharge, compliance was significantly better in the SM group. Only 6 per cent (one patient) made serious errors compared with 47 per cent of controls. After three months only 11 patients in each group remained in the study but compliance in SM patients was still better than in controls. The study highlighted the extremely poor ability of the elderly to manage their medicines at home. This was illustrated by problems cited by patients in the non-self medicating group.