We examined the frequency characteristics of the electroencephalogram (EEG) in 102 schizophrenic patients (44 first-episode and 58 chronic patients) and 102 normal comparison subjects. EEGs of schizophrenic patients had more delta (1-3 Hz) and theta (3.125-8 Hz) activity and less alpha (8.125-13 Hz) activity than normal comparison subjects. There were no significant differences in the EEG frequency composition of first-episode and chronic patients. Because first-episode and chronic patients were characterized by different disorder durations and treatment histories, the similarity of their EEGs suggests that EEG abnormalities are stable characteristics of schizophrenia and are not treatment-related epiphenomena. A principal components analysis of EEG power bands identified an augmented low frequency-diminished alpha component and a beta component. Schizophrenic patients had significantly higher scores on the augmented low frequency-diminished alpha component than did normal comparison subjects, and there was no significant group difference in scores on the beta component. The findings of this investigation suggest that EEG abnormalities in schizophrenia reflect aspects of brain dysfunction.