A postal survey of all practising psychiatrists in Australia, conducted in 1980 with the purpose of establishing psychiatric manpower requirements for 1980-91, is described. It is estimated that in 1980 there was one Whole Time Equivalent psychiatrist, aged 65 years or less, per 19,400 population in Australia. The relativity of manpower requirements is emphasised. A number of different models of estimating future requirements is proposed. The two models most favoured estimate a shortfall for the whole of Australia of 294 and 349 psychiatrists, respectively, in 1980, and a need for an additional 621 or 692 by 1991. A major maldistribution of psychiatrists is identified, viz between states, between capital cities and country areas, and between general psychiatry and specialised areas. The two issues of the number of trainees required and of how to train psychiatrists in special areas of expertise are discussed.