OBJECTIVE: To review the classification, clinical characteristics, and epidemiology of bipolar disorders in old age with a special focus on neurologic comorbidity, high mortality, and management. QUALITY OF EVIDENCE: Most available data is gleaned from retrospective chart reviews and cohort studies. Treatment recommendations are based on evidence from younger populations and a few anecdotal case reports and series involving elderly people. MAIN MESSAGE: While relatively rare in the community setting, mania in old age frequently leads to hospitalization. It is associated with late-onset neurologic disorders (especially cerebrovascular disease) involving the right hemisphere and orbitofrontal cortex. Prognosis is relatively poor; morbidity and mortality rates are high. Management of bipolarity includes cautious use of mood stabilizers, especially lithium and divalproex. CONCLUSIONS: Mania in old age should trigger a careful assessment of underlying neurologic disease, especially cerebrovascular disease. Close clinical follow up is essential.