The prevalence of depressive symptoms and its association with Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes was examined in a population-based study of 1586 men and women aged 50 years or older. Men and women with previously diagnosed diabetes had significantly higher mean Beck Depression Inventory total, somatic subscale, and affective subscale scores than normal men and women and individuals with newly diagnosed diabetes. The age- and sex-adjusted rates of Inventory scores of 13 or greater among individuals with previously diagnosed diabetes was 3.7 times greater than the rates among individuals with newly diagnosed diabetes (p less than 0.05). Medication use and fasting plasma glucose were unrelated to symptom score. The number of other chronic conditions and age were significant independent predictors of depressive symptoms in all diabetic men and women. Results suggest that depressive symptoms in individuals with Type 2 diabetes may be related to awareness of diabetic condition in addition to poor health.