The paper describes a one year prospective study of 124 elderly depressed patients. Only one third of the group had a good outcome. Poor outcome was associated with severity of initial illness, those with depressive delusions having a particularly poor outcome. Outcome was also influenced by physical health problems and severe life events in the follow-up year. Social class differences in outcome were thought to be due to class differences in the experience of severe life events. There was no evidence that an intimate relationship protected against relapse in the face of continuing life stress.