Late onset schizophrenia is a controversial medical diagnosis. This paper reviews the progress made in this area during the 1998-99 period. We retrieved all papers related to the subject that were listed on Medline and PsycINFO databases and were published in English. Few of the 55 papers available for analysis presented original data. The most significant developments were the indication that schizophrenia with later onset is associated with low familial loading and that patients are not at increased risk of Alzheimer's disease or dementia with Lewy bodies in later life. There was limited progress in our understanding of the clinical presentation, nosology, risk factors, pathophysiology and management of older adults with late onset schizophrenia. Late onset schizophrenia remains a poorly understood and under-researched area of psychiatry. Curr Opin Psychiatry 13:423-427. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.