Objective To report the outcomes of a retrospective database analysis to compare the effectiveness of atypical and typical antipsychotic drugs. Methods Medical records of patients admitted to the psychiatry outpatient clinic between January 1998 and October 2005 were retrospectively reviewed. Data obtained from patient records were noted on a special form assessing four aspects of the treatment history: socio-demographic features, disease characteristics, initial treatment at the time of admission, and course of treatment. Patient groups (typical/atypical and Risperidone/Haloperidol/Olanzapine) were compared for time to all-cause medication discontinuation and rate of discontinuation. Results There was no statistically significant difference in the duration of treatment between patients using atypical (n=150) and typical (n=124) antipsychotics. The duration of treatment was significantly longer in patients on Haloperidol (n=91) compared with those on Risperidone (n=63). Rates of discontinuation over 18 months were 59.3% for patients on atypical antipsychotics and 57.3% for those on typical antipsychotics, and 68.3% for patients on Risperidone, 51.6% for patients on Haloperidol and 54.3% for patients on Olanzapine. Conclusion Despite our hypothesis patients with chronic schizophrenia discontinued their atypical and typical antipsychotics, at a high rate with no significant difference indicating substantial limitations in the effectiveness of these drugs. Copyright (C) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.