Epidemiological studies have suggested that excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is associated with depression, but the association between EDS and other psychiatric disorders has not been investigated. The aim of this study was to investigate the association of EDS with a wide range of psychiatric disorders and health-related conditions in the elderly population. Two thousand two hundred and fifty-nine non-institutionalised persons aged 65-years and over randomly recruited from the Montpellier district, France, completed the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Psychiatric status was assessed by the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview and demographic and other health information was obtained. This cross-sectional study was conducted from March 1999 to February 2001. Men were significantly more likely to report EDS (ESS score>10) compared with women (12.0% versus 6.0% respectively). EDS was significantly associated in univariate analyses with chronic diseases, early awakening, snoring, severity of depression and lifetime prevalence of manic and hypomanic episodes. A multivariate analysis revealed that the lifetime prevalence of manic and hypomanic episodes, snoring and gender (male) were independently associated with EDS. No independent association with other psychiatric disorders was found.