A ten-year longitudinal study of all civil commitments was conducted in a mid-sized county in Washington State, beginning with the 1974 effective date of a more stringent commitment law and encompassing the introduction of more lenient criteria five years later. A major finding was the increase in the number of 72-hour detentions and 14-day commitments that preceded by one year the passage of the broader criteria. The number of detentions continued to rise throughout the study period, while 14-day and 90-day commitments rose but less sharply. Data on repeated detentions showed that 21 percent of the patients were detained more than once. This group of recidivists accounted for 45 percent of the total number of detentions.