||This article uses archival as well as published materials to trace the development of psychiatric epidemiology in France from 1945 to 1980. Although a research programme in this field was launched in the early 1960s at the National Institute of Medical Research (INH, later renamed INSERM), psychiatric epidemiology remained an embryonic field in France during the next two decades. French researchers in this field were hampered by limited resources, but their work was primarily characterized by a deep engagement with the epistemological challenges of psychiatric epidemiology. The history of French psychiatric epidemiology in the 1960s and 1970s can be seen as an attempt to create a specifically French way of doing psychiatric epidemiology research. In the first part of this article, the author relates this unique history to internal professional dynamics during the development of psychiatric research and, more broadly, to the biomedical institutional context in which epidemiological work was being done. The next part of this article examines the conditions under which the INH research team framed epidemiological research in psychiatry in the 1960s. The last part focuses on INH’s flagship psychiatric epidemiology programme, developed in cooperation with pioneers of French community psychiatry in Paris’s 13th arrondissement in the 1960s.