Objective: There has been a growing trend in medicine to evaluate the impact of illness on functional abilities. Such studies typically rely on the patient's or caregiver's report. The goal of this study was to assess directly the functional capacity of psychiatric patients, especially older ones. Method: The subjects were 55 outpatients with schizophrenia and 72 normal persons ranging in age from 45 to 86 years. The subjects were administered the Direct Assessment of Functional Status Scale, which assesses behavior during simulated daily activity tasks in the areas of time orientation, communication, transportation, finance, shopping, grooming, and eating. Results: The patients with schizophrenia had significantly greater disability than the normal subjects according to total scale scores as well as the communication, transportation, finance, and shopping subscale scores. Global cognitive status was the best predictor of total scale score. Conclusions: The Direct Assessment of Functional Status Scale is a promising instrument for functional assessment in outpatients with schizophrenia.