Aims and method: To compare an existing crisis resolution service with a new crisis resolution team (CRT) in Wales. The impact of the new team was measured by changes in bed days and admissions. A random sample of patients from each service was assessed for service satisfaction, social functioning and quality of life after first presentation. Results: The total number of bed days was reduced following the introduction of the new CRT (27.3%). The frequency and duration of compulsory admissions increased by 31% in the CRT between the first and second years and by 7% in the control service, offset by a greater reduction in informal admissions in the CRT (23.5%) compared with the control group (13.3%); overall bed usage was unchanged. Service satisfaction, social functioning and quality of life showed no important differences between the services. Clinical implications: Crisis resolution teams may reduce informal admissions in the short term but at the cost of more compulsory admissions later.