In the first study to systematically examine postnatal depression in fathers, we examined depression in 200 postnatal couples, using a two-stage design. The prevalence of depression ascertained by the 13-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), using a cut-off score for 'caseness' of 13 or more in an unselected postnatal sample, was 27.5% in mothers at six weeks postpartum, 25.7% in mothers at six months postpartum, 9.0% in fathers at six weeks postpartum, and 5.4% in fathers at six months postpartum. The prevalence did not differ significantly in either mothers or fathers from a control group of parents with children between three and five years of age. As expected, mothers had a significantly higher prevalence of psychiatric 'caseness' at both six weeks and six months postpartum than fathers. Fathers were significantly more likely to be cases if their partners were also cases. The hypothesis that different aetiological factors would be important in brief and persistent disorders in mothers was upheld.