OBJECTIVE: The aim was to elucidate the relationship between psychotic and behavioural symptoms in the elderly. METHOD: A representative sample of 85 year old subjects living in Gothenburg, Sweden (n = 451) was assessed with neuropsychiatric examinations, key informant interviews and record reviews. RESULTS: Fourteen percent of these very elderly subjects had paranoid symptoms with concomitant anxious agitation and/or irritability/anger. Hallucinations and paranoid symptoms were both associated with a pattern of behavioural symptoms including both anxious agitation and irritability/anger simultaneously in both demented [hallucinations, Odds ratio (OR) 2.8, Confidence interval (CI) 1.2-6.7, paranoid symptoms OR 5.6 CI 2.2-14.2] and non-demented (hallucinations OR 3.2 CI 1.2-8.3, paranoid symptoms OR 4.8 CI 2.0-11.8). CONCLUSION: Psychotic symptoms are associated with behavioural symptoms regardless of dementia status. Since these symptoms lead to decreased ability to function in daily life and increased caregiver burden, it is important for health professionals to identify and treat these symptoms also in non-demented.