There is broad consensus within the mental health community that bipolar disorder (BD) is a serious, genetically influenced mental illness with well-defined diagnostic criteria for older adolescents and adults. In a climate in which bipolar disorder is readily diagnosed people can see how easily foster children might be suspected of having this disorder, and how important it is to first rule out other ways of understanding their chaotic emotions. Broad diagnostic criteria run the risk of labeling with BD those children who are healthy but emotionally intense, as well as those whose emotional development has been derailed through chronic neglect or abuse. BD is imperative that people strive to conduct a thorough assessment for each child with a detailed personal history and description of current conditions, in addition to gathering information about genetic and behavioral history.