This report presents findings from a 3-year investigation of patient turnover, morbidity and mortality in the department of geriatric medicine based at Cork University and St. Finbarr's Hospitals, Cork. A total of 3,977 patients were admitted during the study period. The majority were 70 years or over (89%), referred by a general practitioner (83%) and female (56%). Seventy-one percent of admissions were discharged home, a further 18% died within the unit while 11% were transferred to continuing care. The median duration of stay was ten days. Age, diagnosis and source of referral significantly influenced both patient outcome and duration of stay. Forty-seven percent of discharged patients were followed-up at either the day hospital or outpatient clinic. A morbidity profile was constructed for a representative sample of 318 patients. 52% of this sample had two or more significant diagnoses. Neurological disorders carried a particularly poor prognosis. The median duration of stay for patients transferred to an on-site long stay facility was approximately one year.