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Aspects of the work of five community psychiatric nurses are examined by means of a questionnaire completed by the nurses for a sample of 50 patients. Information sharing and a close working relationship with the general practitioner, skills relating to assessment and psychological support of patients, organization of care by other agencies, a detailed knowledge of community agencies, and a capacity for interdisciplinary working were all found to be important. Tasks relating to body care were reported in only a small number of cases. The nurses saw themselves as advising on the planning of patient management and the selection of medication in a substantial minority of cases. The original brief had been to care for psychogeriatric patients but a third of the patients fell into a younger age group. These findings are discussed in connection with their implications for the future training of nurses and the relationship between primary care teams and local psychiatric services.