Objective: The study sought to determine the relationship between parental incarceration and behavioral and family characteristics among children in a day hospital. Methods: Chi square analysis and t tests were used to compare preadmission characteristics and teachers' behavioral ratings of a group of 16 children in a day hospital setting who bad experienced the incarceration of one or both parents and a group of 2l children in that setting who bad no history of parental incarceration. Results: Children in the parental incarceration group were significantly more likely to have experienced parental substance abuse than those whose parents had not been incarcerated. A history of child abuse or maltreatment appeared to be more likely among the parental incarceration group. Boys whose fathers bad been incarcerated received higher teacher ratings of delinquent and aggressive behavior. Paternal incarceration among girls was associated with a significant increase in attention problems. Conclusions: A history of parental incarceration may be quite common in some mental health samples of children. It appears to be associated with severe family dysfunction and behavioral disorders.