This study examined depressive symptoms and their correlates in African-American patients with type 1 diabetes. Five-hundred eighty-one diabetics participated in a study on risk factors for retinopathy in African-Americans with type 1 diabetes. Evaluations included structured interview, ocular examination, blood test, and completion of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Among the 581 diabetic patients, 159 (26.9%) had a BDI score > 14. Significantly more of these patients were unemployed, had less education, lower socio-economic status, and less personal and family income than those who had a BDI < or = 14. Also, significantly more patients with a BDI score > 14 had proliferative retinopathy and were receiving disability payments. In the multiple logistic regression, two factors that significantly and independently associated with the BDI score > 14 were unemployment or not working due to disability. Both socio-economic and diabetic variables are associated with depressive symptoms among African-American patients with type 1 diabetes.