The objective of this study was to explore whether people with intellectual disability from ethnic minority groups have higher rates of mental health problems and access different care pathways than their White counterparts. Clinical and socio-demographic data were collected for 806 consecutive new referrals to a specialist mental health service for people with intellectual disabilities in South London. Referrals were grouped according to their ethnic origin. The analyses showed that there was an over-representation of referrals from ethnic minority groups with diagnoses of schizophrenia spectrum disorder. In addition, Black participants were more likely to have an autistic spectrum disorder. Referrals of ethnic minority groups were considerably younger than White referrals, and less likely to be in supported residences. The results are discussed in the context of cultural and familial. factors in particular ethnic groups that may play an important role in accessing and using mental health services. (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.