Defatted breast milk from women with postpartum psychosis and from healthy lactating women was analyzed by high-resolution gel permeation chromatography as well as by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and urea polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The gel permeation procedure allowed quantitative analysis of milk proteins (including beta-casein) with minute amounts of defatted milk (10-15 microliter). By electrophoresis, further characterization of the protein pattern, including the beta-casein fraction, was obtained. Milk samples from five control and seven psychotic subjects were analyzed. The concentration of the beta-casein-containing peak was significantly lower in milk samples from the psychotic group by both chromatography and electrophoresis. These lower levels of beta-casein may result from a higher rate of enzymatic degradation generating i.a. peptides with opioid activity, as shown earlier in plasma and CSF of women with postpartum psychosis.