Objective: The purpose of the field trials for oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder was to select valid diagnostic thresholds for these disorders and to compare the psychometric properties of DSM-IV criteria for oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder with previous DSM diagnostic formulations. Method: Structured diagnostic interviews, standardized clinician's validation diagnoses, and multiple measures of impairment were obtained for 440 clinic-referred children and adolescents aged 4-17 years. Results: A diagnostic threshold of four symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder optimized identification of impaired children, improved agreement somewhat with the clinician's validation diagnosis, and had somewhat better test-retest agreement than DSM-III-R. In the case of conduct disorder, the optimal time window for ascertainment of symptoms was clarified. A diagnostic threshold of three symptoms of conduct disorder maximized accurate identification of impaired children and agreement with the clinician's validation diagnosis and resulted in slightly better test-retest agreement than DSM-III-R. Compared with the DSM-III-R definition, the DSM-IV definition of oppositional defiant disorder was somewhat more prevalent, but the prevalence of conduct disorder was essentially unchanged. Conclusions: DSM-IV definitions of oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder are somewhat better than DSM-III-R definitions in terms of internal consistency and test-retest agreement, and the validity of the DSM-IV definition of oppositional defiant disorder is slightly better than that of DSM-III-R.