PURPOSE OF REVIEW This review covers the epidemiological research from developing countries to identify the scope of research in the various aspects of epidemiology and the strengths of research. The period covered is June 2004 to June 2005. The literature survey used searches of Medline, key psychiatric journals and personal correspondence with leading psychiatric researchers from developing countries. RECENT FINDINGS There is a new interest in epidemiological studies in developing countries. These studies have been driven by three factors, namely international collaboration; specific situations like disasters, terrorism and severe acute respiratory syndrome; and international attention to specific topics like maternal depression. There is limited long-term research on specific conditions. There are a number of leads suggesting local social-cultural factors contribute to the distribution of psychiatric problems. Child psychiatry continues to be low in priority. There is also lack of research in areas such as personality disorders and organic psychiatric disorders. SUMMARY It is possible to carry out high quality epidemiological research in developing countries. Such research has provided new insights into the distribution, causation, course and outcome of mental disorders. There is need for greater attention to the development of epidemiological assessment tools to suit local conditions. Specific centers/institutions developing long-term research interests on specific subjects would be valuable for future efforts. There is also need to widen the conditions to be studied.