The objective of the study was to identify, in detail, the characteristics of stealing behavior and eventual associated psychopathology in a large group of eating-disordered patients. A sample of 155 females meeting DSM-III-R criteria for anorexia nervosa (AN) or bulimia nervosa BN completed the Stealing Behavior Questionnaire (SBQ) and other self-reporting measures, including the Dissociation Questionnaire (DIS-Q). In a subgroup of 80 patients, the SBO was repeated after 2 months' treatment. A total of 47.1% of the patients admitted a history of stealing; compared with restricting AN (35.3%), the proportion of stealers was higher in binge-eating/purging AN (54.8%) and BN (48.7%). The number of patients admitting to stealing did not change after 2 months of intensive treatment. Compared with other patients, stealers did not differ in signs of general psychopathology, but showed more abnormal scores on the DIS-Q (especially ''loss of control''). The patients whose stealing was clearly related to their eating disorder did not show a distinct pattern of eating pathology or associated psychopathology. If studied in a systematic way, stealing appears to be more frequent than expected; with its relationship to bulimic tendencies and ''loss of control'' it might indicate a more severe (stage of an) eating disorder and, as such, deserves more attention from researchers and clinicians than the scarce literature is reflecting up to now. Copyright (C) 1996 by W.B. Saunders Company.