Klotho is a hormone secreted into human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), plasma and urine that promotes longevity and influences the onset of several premature senescent phenotypes in mice and humans, including atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, stroke and osteoporosis. Preliminary studies also suggest that Klotho possesses tumor suppressor properties. Klotho's roles in these phenomena were first suggested by studies demonstrating that a defect in the Klotho gene in mice results in a significant decrease in lifespan. The Klotho-deficient mouse dies prematurely at 8-9 weeks of age. At 4-5 weeks of age, a syndrome resembling human ageing emerges consisting of atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, cognitive disturbances and alterations of hippocampal architecture. Several deficits in Klotho-deficient mice are likely to contribute to these phenomena. These include an inability to defend against oxidative stress in the central nervous system and periphery, decreased capacity to generate nitric oxide to sustain normal endothelial reactivity, defective Klotho-related mediation of glycosylation and ion channel regulation, increased insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling and a disturbed calcium and phosphate homeostasis accompanied by altered vitamin D levels and ectopic calcification. Identifying the mechanisms by which Klotho influences multiple important pathways is an emerging field in human biology that will contribute significantly to understanding basic physiologic processes and targets for the treatment of complex diseases. Because many of the phenomena seen in Klotho-deficient mice occur in depressive illness, major depression and bipolar disorder represent illnesses potentially associated with Klotho dysregulation. Klotho's presence in CSF, blood and urine should facilitate its study in clinical populations.