OBJECTIVE: This study was performed to investigate the prescribing patterns of antimanic agents in the treatment of acute bipolar disorder inpatients in Korea from 1990 through 2000. The results will serve as the basic data for the practice guideline for the pharmacotherapy of bipolar disorder patients in Korea. METHOD: Retrospective chart review of bipolar disorder inpatients of Soonchunhyang Medical Center in Seoul and Chun-An was conducted for each of the year 1990, 1995, and 2000. The following data are collected ; 1) demographic data, 2) history of bipolar disorder, 3) length of hospital stay, 4) detailed drug titration records of antimanic agents and antipsychotic agents. RESULTS: During the last decade, the frequency of lithium monotherapy was decreased obviously. Instead, more than half of the patients in 2000 were on combination therapy of lithium and anticonvulsants. Lithiumvalproate combination was the preferred strategy and the use rate of carbamazepine has been decreased. In addition, most of the patients were given antipsychotic agents during the last 10 years. And recently, atypical antipsychotics were increasingly prescribed. These changes in the field of pharmacology of bipolar disorder have resulted neither in shorter hospital stays nor lower dosages of concurrent neuroleptics. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate the trends in the prescribing of antimanic agents for the treatment of bipolar disorder in Korea across the past 10 years. Mostly, the change seems to correspond to the international practice guideline. More systematic research is needed to find out the clinical benefits of the anticonvulsants in the real practice of treatment of bipolar disorder.