This report describes the rates of recovery and remission from minor depression or dysthymia in primary care patients three months after completing a randomized controlled treatment trial. The subjects were primary care patients who received > or =4 treatment sessions with Problem-Solving Treatment, paroxetine, or placebo and who completed an independent assessment 3 months after the study (201 with minor depression, 229 with dysthymia). The 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD), semistructured questions about postintervention depression treatments, and baseline medical comorbidity, neuroticism, and social function were the primary measures. For minor depression 76% and for dysthymia 68% of subjects who were in remission at the end of the 11-week treatment trial were recovered (HAMD < or =6) three months after the treatment trial. Of patients who were not in remission at 11 weeks, for minor depression 37% and for dysthymia 31% went on to achieve remission at 25 weeks. The majority of patients chose not to use antidepressants or psychotherapy after the trial. Patients with minor depression that had greater baseline social function and lower neuroticism scores were more likely to be recovered. For patients with minor depression, these findings suggest a need for some matching of continuation and maintenance treatment to patient characteristics rather than uniform, automatic treatment recommendations. Because of the chronic, relapsing nature of dysthymia, practical improvements in encouraging effective continuation and maintenance phases of treatment are indicated.