Analysis of data from 82 Veterans Affairs medical centers showed that during a one-year period in 1987-88, VA psychiatric inpatients spent about 240,000 hours in seclusion or restraint, with about half of that time in mechanical restraints. The median length of time patients in each medical center spent in seclusion and restraint was used to classify centers as having "higher" or "usual" rates of use of those techniques. In the 20 centers classified as higher users, patients spent two to three times longer in seclusion and restraint per incident than patients in the 62 centers classified as usual users. Time spent by patients in seclusion and restraint in centers with usual rates of use was consistent with reports from other U.S. studies. The longer time in seclusion and restraint per incident in higher-user centers may be due to characteristics of the medical center or of the patient population.