The purpose of this study was to systematically review the literature to determine whether racial disparities exist in the diagnosis and treatment of depression in the United States. A literature search using PubMed of potentially relevant articles in English that include data from population-based studies examining the diagnosis and/or treatment of depression; or data from prospective studies stratifying the rates of diagnosis and/or treatment of depression by race/ethnicity and ethnic comparisons between Caucasians, African Americans and/or Hispanics. Initial searches identified 2,396 articles. On the basis of our criteria, 14 articles were eligible for inclusion in this review. Four included data on the diagnosis of depression in different ethnic groups; their results were not consistent. Twelve included data on treatment variability in the treatment of depression; overall these suggested lower rates of treatment for African Americans and Hispanics than for Caucasians. More research is needed focusing on ethnic variation in the diagnosis of depression. Racial disparities exist in the treatment of depression.