This paper documents the initial phase of a new research direction which began in 1984 at Royal Park Hospital. Attention is focussed on the place of the university and the research institute in the psychiatric hospital and on the perceived need for concerted research on the major psychoses in Australia. The focal point of the Royal Park research programme, the Aubrey Lewis Clinical Research Unit, has been open since October 1984. The development of the unit's research activities during the initial few years of its existence required an awareness of specific scientific, administrative and political issues. These are discussed in detail in order to convey something of the process, as well as the content of such development, and in an attempt to provide some assistance to others undertaking similar developments.