The lifetime prevalence of symptoms of a major depressive episode was estimated in two large samples of randomly selected community residents that included many Mexican-Americans. Approximately 5% to 40% of the subjects reported each symptom cluster. The rates for Mexican-Americans born in the United States resembled those for non-Hispanic whites born in the United States; however, the rates for Mexican-Americans born in Mexico were lower in eight of nine symptoms clusters. Language differences did not account for this pattern. Cultural similarity to non-Hispanic whites born in the United States was associated with a higher rate of depressive symptoms.