The present study examined those factors which differentially lead to normal eating and binge eating. Twenty-one bulimic subjects and comparison subjects monitored their mood, hunger, and food intake hourly over a number of days. The bulimic sample ate fewer meals and had lower overall mood. Positive mood, food abstinence combined with intensified hunger, and being in the company of another person preceded normal eating (i.e. retained meal). Negative mood, recent consumption of food, and being alone preceded bulimic episodes.