In this study we investigated whether, in conjunction with neuroleptics, a psychoeducational and cognitively oriented treatment for schizophrenic outpatients and their key-persons can improve the course of schizophrenic illness within a 2-year follow-up. This prospective randomized study covered a total of 191 schizophrenic patients (according to DSM-III-R) and comprised a psychoeducational training and cognitive psychotherapy for patients and counseling for their key persons in various combinations. Patients were examined before, immediately after and 2 years after the end of the intervention. Patients in the treatment groups reduced their overall psychopathology and their attention deficit. For patients receiving all three treatment conditions, there was a relevant preventive effect with regard to the rehospitalization rate appearing during the second year of the follow-up. We conclude that in the mid-term, a combination of psychoeducational and cognitively oriented therapy for patients and their keypersons can improve the course of schizophrenic illness.