Short-term general hospitals account for most psychiatric hospitalizations of children, but relatively little research has examined the psychiatric care of children at these facilities. This study compared the characteristics of and use of hospital services by children and adults who received a primary psychiatric diagnosis at 380 short-term general hospitals in 1977. Of the 100,000 patients studied, 7,000, or 7 percent, were children, most between the ages of 12 and 17. Children 12 and older were hospitalized the longest, a mean of 15.6 days, followed by adults (12.7 days), children between six and 11 (10.7 days), and children five and younger (5.6 days). The great majority of children under age 12 and roughly one-third of children between ages 12 and 1 7 were not seen by a psychiatrist during their hospital stay. Very few were seen by child psychiatrists. The authors believe that child psychiatrists should be concerned about the effect their relative absence from general hospitals has on quality of care.