This month's issue features a special section on involuntary outpatient commitment edited by Marvin S. Swartz, M.D., and John Monahan, Ph.D. In their introduction to the five articles in the section, the guest editors point out that many states have embraced outpatient commitment as a remedy for the most visible failures of community treatment, such as rare acts of violence by persons with mental illness. Two articles in the section describe randomized controlled studies in North Carolina and New York City. In the North Carolina study, a team of researchers led by Dr. Swartz showed that outpatient commitment is effective only when it is sustained for at least six months and combined with intensive community treatment (see page 325). The New York study, by Henry J. Steadman, Ph.D., and his colleagues, found no differences in major outcomes between patients who received outpatient commitment and those who did not (see page 330). In the third article in the section, E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., and Mary Zdanowicz, J.D., maintain that outpatient commitment is a form of assisted treatment that is necessary for a subgroup of patients who lack awareness of their illness and who do not adhere to medication regimens because of biologically based cognitive deficits (see page 337). In the fourth article, Michael Allen, J.D., and Vicki Fox Smith discuss the practical and legal dangers of outpatient commitment programs (see page 342). Finally, Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D., urges policy makers to think carefully about adopting outpatient commitment statutes. However, he argues that the weight of evidence and of clinical experience now favors efforts to implement reasonable statutory schemes, provided research on the effectiveness of outpatient commitment continues (see page 347). In a related commentary in Taking Issue, Jeffrey L. Geller, M.D., M.P.H., discusses the historical context of outpatient commitment and the questions that remain unanswered (see page 265).