We examine the effect of participation in an 8-week writing group in six nursing homes. Pretest and posttest assessments of cognitive and affective functional status were administered to 62 participants and 54 control subjects. We asked writing-group participants about previous writing experience and perceived ability to convey feelings, ideas, life experiences, and memories to others. Weekly assessments were conducted on eight group process measures. Findings suggest that participation in writing groups may reduce depression, particularly among residents with higher cognitive ability and greater depression. Significantly more participants than control subjects report an ability to relate feelings and ideas to other residents and staff. Improvement in group process measures is greatest for cognitively impaired participants and those with high physical function scores. There is considerable improvement in residents for whom writing-group participation frequently is considered inappropriate: those without writing experience, the depressed, and the cognitively impaired.