Physical health and depression are closely related in the elderly. This has been found in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. In this study the relation between four aspects of physical health and depressive symptom levels were studied in a community-based sample of older inhabitants of a small town in the Netherlands (n=224). Results indicated that depression as measured with the CES-D is sufficiently different from physical health to be distinguished from it, and that it is sufficiently related to physical health to be relevant for further study. The more subjective measures of physical health used in this study (pain and subjective health) appeared to have a much stronger relation with depression than the more objective health measures (chronic diseases and functional limitations). Physical health and aspects of the social environment such as marital status appeared to have independent effects on mood. In this study these effects were moderated by age and sex. In women and the young-old (55-64) none of the associations between physical health and depression were significant. In men and the old-old (75+) all associations were highly significant.