The social acceptance expressed by 234 former mental patients and by the general public toward persons with serious mental illness was compared. Factors that may affect social acceptance of such persons, including personal characteristics and experiences that promote identification with mentally ill persons and the subject's level of psychological distress, were examined. Former patients expressed attitudes that were much more accepting than those of the general public. As hypothesized, individual characteristics and experiences likely to increase former patients' identification with their peers (that is, visible deviant appearance, a high level of involvement within the sheltered care community, and the experience of negative community reactions to a resident's facility) were related to a higher score on a Guttman scale of social acceptance. An increased level of self-reported psychological distress tended to moderate such supportive attitudes.