Relationships between clinical retardation (measured by the Hamilton Depression Inventory) and selective attention (measured with a computerized version of the Stroop word colour test) were studied in a population of 21 depressed patients. Stroop interference was higher in depressed patients than in normals. Desynchronized presentations of the distractor and the target and intervals between responses and succeeding stimuli permitted depressed subjects to respectively apply and lift inhibition of the distractor so that their interference was reduced to control levels. Finally, successive inhibition scores were correlated with the retardation score in depressed subjects. The results are consistent with the hypothesis of a retardation in the application and the lifting of cognitive inhibition in depression.