A systematic review was conducted to identify and describe school-based prevention and early intervention programs for depression and to evaluate their effectiveness in reducing depressive symptoms. Forty-two randomised controlled trials, relating to 28 individual school-based programs, were identified through the Cochrane Library, PsycInfo and PubMed databases. A large proportion of the programs identified were based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and delivered by a mental health professional or graduate student over 8-12 sessions. Indicated programs, which targeted students exhibiting elevated levels of depression, were found to be the most effective, with effect sizes for all programs ranging from 0.21 to 1.40. Teacher program leaders and the employment of attention control conditions were associated with fewer significant effects. Further school-based research is required that involves the use of attention controls, long-term follow-ups and which focuses on the training and evaluation of sustainable program leaders, such as teachers.