We investigated the use of hypnotics in nursing hornes and old age homes in the county of Sogn og Fjordane, Norway. Data on administration of hypnotics on 3 separate days within a week in August 1995 was obtained from the drug administration records in 31 institutions. Twentyfive percent of the 1062 patients in the institutions used hypnotics, with no difference between patients from nursing homes and old age homes. The number of patients treated wíth hypnotics, the doses administered, and the tíme of administration were similar for weekends and workdays. About 100% of the hypnotics were used as scheduled, and 29% of the doses administered were higher than the recommended lowest dose for elderly patients. Furthermore, about 50% of the hypnotics administered were long-acting benzodíazepines. The results indicate a need for a review of the prescribing of hypnotics in geriatric institutions.