Haloperidol decanoate is a depot preparation of haloperidol, a commonly used butyrophenone derivative with antipsychotic activity. Haloperidol decanoate has no intrinsic activity: its pharmacodynamic actions are those of haloperidol--primarily that of central antidopamine activity. The monthly administered depot formulation has several clinical and practical advantages over oral haloperidol: better compliance and more predictable absorption; more controlled plasma concentrations; fewer extrapyramidal side effects; less frequent reminders of condition; and reduced medical workload. In open and controlled studies, haloperidol decanoate has produced adequate maintenance or improvement of the condition of patients with psychoses (mainly schizophrenia) when an abrupt change from orally administered haloperidol or other antipsychotic drugs has been instituted. Limited comparative studies indicate that the depot and oral forms of haloperidol are equally effective, and that haloperidol decanoate is at least as effective as depot forms of fluphenazine, pipothiazine, flupenthixol and perphenazine in controlling the symptoms of psychosis. Extrapyramidal side effects and the need for concomitant anti-Parkinsonian drugs may be a problem, but may be less frequent than with oral haloperidol or other depot antipsychotics. Thus, haloperidol decanoate offers a useful alternative in the treatment of psychoses to orally administered haloperidol or to other depot antipsychotic drugs.