The psychiatric literature gives evidence supporting the use of volunteers in caring for chronic psychiatric patients in the community. Thorough training of volunteers can be expected to enhance the quality of care they provide and help them to maintain interest in their role.The ten-week training program described in this paper was designed to increase volunteers' knowledge of mental illness, improve the quality of care they provided, and stimulate interest in the volunteer role. Pre-and posttraining scores on a questionnaire indicated that volunteers' knowledge had increased. The volunteers rated most aspects of the training very highly and felt that that the orientation had helped them meet their goals. Several volunteers indicated increased tolerance for the mentally ill.Many questions remain unanswered. For example, in the long run, what difference does such training make for the patients with whom the volunteers work? Will reluctant professionals be more willing to refer patients to volunteer-staffed programs if those volunteers have had intensive training? Is the training cost-effective? We feel that the potential benefits of volunteers working with the chronic mentally ill in the community make this an important area for future research.