Operationalized diagnostic criteria for depression were used to assess 137 (76% male, 24% female) patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Forty-two percent met criteria for some form of depression. Discriminant function analysis revealed a significant relationship between the presence or history of depression and higher levels of pain, but not between current depression and common indicators of RA activity or severity. These results suggest that depression is a frequent disorder among persons with RA. The importance of patient appraisal of disease and assessment of repeated depressive episodes is discussed. Attention to specific interventions for depression in conjunction with the treatment of the RA is suggested.