BACKGROUND. The validity of excluding bereavement-related depressive episodes which satisfy all the criteria of major depression is examined in this community study. METHOD. A total of 658 subjects were interviewed in their homes using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule. The length of the episodes of depression, the dysfunction they caused, and the frequency of seeking and receiving treatment were assessed. RESULTS. The risk of recurrence did not differ whether the depressive episodes that satisfy the DSM-III-R criteria of major depression were or were not related to bereavement. CONCLUSIONS. Excluding from the repertoire of depressions all those related to external stressors might need more research, but singling out those related to bereavement does not seem to be supported by our community-based data.