This article is a report on the course of depressive syndromes in a community-based sample of older subjects in The Netherlands (n = 238). After baseline, the course of depression was assessed in five waves of follow-up measurements, covering 1 year. 52% of the subjects were never depressed; 16% suffered an incident depression, half of which remitted during the study; 8% had a depression at the start which remitted during the study; 14% were chronically depressed and in 10% the course was variable. Of those depressed at the start of the study, 32% remitted without relapse, 25% remitted but relapsed later and 43% were chronically depressed. While demographic variables were not predictive, health-related variables were predictive of both the onset and the course of depressive syndromes. Chronicity was associated with recent visits to general practitioners, indicating that treatment could have been provided relatively easily in many cases.