The management of the behavior of mentally challenged adults when providing required dental care is often a problem, whether in the dental office or in a hospital setting. Our institution has a designated program to provide required dental care to this group of patients. Because of the high incidence of poor cooperation, which may include aggressive antagonistic behavior, many of these patients are scheduled for dental care under general anesthesia with an incomplete preoperative medical assessment. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact and limitations that an incomplete medical assessment may present in the delivery of dental care under general anesthesia to these adults with developmental disability. After approval from the institutional review board, the medical records of 139 patients treated in this program between 1992 and 1994 were reviewed to determine the patient profiles, anesthesia management, and complications. The charts of these patients, who underwent dental and radiographic examination, scaling and prophylaxis, and restoration and extraction of teeth under general anesthesia, were reviewed. There were 149 procedures performed on these patients, some more than once. The mean age was 29.5 yr. Males predominated females by a ratio of 2:1. All had multiple diagnoses, medical problems, and medications. Twenty-three patients had Down's Syndrome, four had schizophrenia disorders, 42 had seizure disorders, 11 had hypothyroidism, seven had heart disease, and 14 had central nervous system and neuromuscular disorders. The remainder had a variety of diagnoses, including rare syndromes. One hundred had intravenous (i.v.), 25 had mask inhalation, and 24 had intramuscular ketamine (Ketalar) induction. Nasotracheal intubation was uneventful in 139 patients, five had difficult visualization of the larynx and intubation. Ten patients experienced intraoperative complications, including nonfatal ventricular arrhythmia, slight fall in blood pressure and hypertension (greater than 20% of preoperative value), and four individuals developed laryngospasm. In the Post Anesthetic Care Unit, five patients experienced minor airway problems resulting in a desaturation of oxygen to a level below 85%. Adults with developmental disabilities can be safely managed under general anesthesia for dental treatment in a hospital setting with minimal morbidity and without extensive preoperative investigations.