To increase the feasibility of identifying persons with depressive disorders in a large-scale health policy study, we tested the concordance between face-to-face and telephone-administered versions of the depression section of the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS). This section was administered over the telephone to 230 English-speaking participants of the Los Angeles site of the NIMH Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program (ECA) after their completion of a face-to-face interview (Wave II) with the full DIS. Time lag between interviews was 3 months, on the average. Persons with depressive symptoms were oversampled. Using the face-to-face version as the criterion measure, the sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value of the telephone version for identifying the presence or absence of any lifetime unipolar depressive disorder were 71, 89, and 63 percent, respectively; the kappa statistic was 0.57, and agreement was unbiased. The comparable figures for concordance between two face-to-face interviews administered one year apart to the same subjects were 54, 89, and 60 percent and 0.45 (kappa), respectively. Thus, disagreement was due primarily to test-retest unreliability of the DIS rather than the method of administration.