Born in Baltimore on October 14, 1920, in the family of a pediatrician, he graduated from Loyola College in Baltimore and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His work began in pediatrics but soon he was called to active duty by the Navy and assigned to surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Shortly afterwards he moved to the Veterans Hospital in Perry Point, Maryland and became a psychiatrist. Although initially having no interest in psychiatry, he changed his view and practiced it for the rest of his life, introducing many pharmaceutical agents. Frank Ayd studied, in his words, "practically speaking, every neuroleptic that ever got on the market in this country except for Clozaril and Risperdal".