We report a prospective study of 65 burned inpatients referred for psychiatric consultation. All of the subjects in the sample were evaluated by a structured questionnaire and clinical interview. Reasons for referral were: suicide attempt by burning (n = 7), substance dependence (n = 8) and behaviour disturbed by coping difficulties (n = 50). The diagnoses were adjustment disorder (n = 40), alcohol dependence (n = 7), opiate dependence (n = 2), dementia (n = 3), depressive disorder (n = 5), schizophrenia (n = 1), delirium (n = 1) and post-traumatic stress disorder (n = 5). Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were specifically and carefully evaluated. There were no significant differences between patients with PTSD and adjustment disorder for severity and type of burn injuries. We conclude that PTSD is apt to be missed by the medical staff of burn units.