This study investigated whether an intimate relationship in young adulthood protects young people from depression in the presence of risk factors (parental divorce, low self-esteem in adolescence). The data were drawn from a follow-up survey of adolescents from the age of 16-22 (n = 1656). The prevalence of depression was highest among persons from divorced families who had reported low self-esteem at the age of 16 and who in young adulthood lacked an intimate relationship. An intimate relationship was found to protect young adults with the risk factor of earlier low self-esteem from depression irrespective of family background. The pattern was similar in both sexes.