Abstract Background: Bipolar affective disorder is considered to be a disabling illness with a relapsing and remitting course resulting in enduring psychosocial consequences. In this study, we aimed to determine the demographic and clinical characteristics of patients with bipolar illness, types of treatment at inpatient and outpatient settings and their outcome. Method: Life charts of 61 bipolar outpatients and hospital charts of 47 manic inpatients were retrospectively evaluated regarding the demographics, course of illness and the treatment at both settings. Results: 82.5% of the outpatients were euthymic and 42.5% were on lithium monotherapy at the time of investigation. Psychosocial adjustment was good. High level of education and marital status affected compliance positively. In the outpatient group, 24.2% were bipolar 2 (BP-II): they differed from bipolar 1 (BP-I) patients in having a higher number of lifetime episodes. Females outnumbered males in both settings, 11 had suffered higher numbers of previous episodes, as well as longer stays in hospital. Lithium was the most commonly used agent in acute mania (78.7%); 89.4% of the inpatients received combination treatment, mainly a mood stabilizer with a neuroleptic. Adjunctive neuroleptics decreased from 82.4 to 56.7% after 1995: This resulted in longer lengths of stay in hospital. Limitations: Data were collected naturalistically in a non-blind fashion. Conclusion: Lithium is still the leading mood stabilizer of choice for the acute and maintenance phases of bipolar disorder in our patient population. We submit that family support, high levels of education as well as an in-depth follow-up represented the contributory factors in the good overall outcome.