There is generally a lack of studies examining prevalence and phenomenology of bipolar disorder in Africa. In literature, a unipolar manic course of illness in particular is reported to be rare. The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe the course of illness and clinical features in a cross-section of patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder attending public hospitals in Limpopo Province, South Africa and to determine the rate of a unipolar manic course in this sample of patients. This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study of patients presenting with a history of mania between October 2009 and April 2010, to three hospitals in Limpopo Province. A purposeful sample of 103 patients was recruited and interviewed using the Affective Disorders Evaluation. This study confirms that a unipolar manic course is indeed much more common than rates suggested in present day literature with57% of the study sample only ever experiencing manic episodes. The study also confirms the debilitating nature of bipolar disorder with more than two-thirds being unemployed in spite of a quarter of the study subjects having a tertiary education. The high rates of attempted suicide, history of violence and history of drug abuse all furthermore points to the devastating effects bipolar disorder has on individuals and their families. Treatment choice appeared to be a combination of a mood-stabilising agent in combination with an anti-psychotic. It was found that two-thirds of study subjects had consulted with faith- or traditional healers. Significant gender differences appeared in that females were more likely to suffer from comorbid anxiety disorders, have a history of sexual trauma, and be HIV positive whilst men were more likely to have a forensic- and substance-abuse history, experience hallucinations and receive clozapine. Patients presenting with a unipolar manic course of illness, as described in this thesis, may contribute to the search for an etiologically homogeneous sub-group which presents unique phenotype for genetic research and the search for genetic markers in mental illness. A unipolar manic course therefore needs to be considered as a specifier in diagnostic systems in order to heighten the awareness of such a course of illness in bipolar disorder, with a view to future research.