Inpatient psychiatric capacity is limited in Malawi and no published studies have assessed psychiatric readmissions there. Information about factors associated with readmission may help guide strategies to reduce readmission rates and keep patients stabilised in the community. Our goal was to determine factors associated with readmission among a cohort of psychiatric inpatients in Lilongwe, Malawi. We conducted a retrospective chart review of all patients admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit in Lilongwe, Malawi from January 1 to December 31, 2011. We used logistic regression to test for associations between readmissions during the study period and patient variables. 419 patients were hospitalised during the study period. Twenty-nine patients (6.9%) were readmitted at least once during the study period. Readmission was associated only with intentional medication non-adherence at home (aOR: 3.33,  = 0.02). Intentional medication non-adherence is a potentially modifiable behaviour associated with psychiatric readmission. Efforts to improve medication adherence among patients following hospital discharge may help decrease the risk of readmission.KEY POINTSThe prevalence of readmission among psychiatric inpatients in Lilongwe, Malawi was 6.9% during the 1-year study period.Readmission was associated with intentional medication non-adherence at home.Future research efforts in Malawi should focus on improving medication adherence among psychiatric patients in the community to help decrease rates of readmission.