Delay in discharge of psychiatric patients frequently is attributed to the lack of available community resources, or to the unwillingness of the patient or his family to accept discharge or transfer to another facility. The role of the psychiatric system itself rarely is mentioned as a factor. A study of 138 psychiatric patients in a Canadian community hospital in 1978 showed that 35 per cent were judged to be delayed in their discharge. By far the greatest source of delay was the administration of the various psychiatric services within the system. Delayed patients were found to be statistically similar to nondelayed patients, except for the delayed patients' tendency to be poorer and to be overrepresented on two of the six wards studied. The cost implications of the delays in discharge are discussed, as are suggestions for solving the problems within the administrative framework.