The ability of depressed patients to assess their mood states is controversial. We devised a scale consisting of a global item and 23 multiple visual analog items based on the Carroll/Klein model of depression. Short-term reliability of self-ratings in 13 unipolar and 11 bipolar depressed patients was tested. Subjects completed the scale and were retested 1 h later. Global clinician and self-ratings demonstrated similar episode severity between the groups and global self-ratings were highly reliable at retest for both groups. Unipolar depressed patients demonstrated high retest reliability on individual items of the MVAS. Bipolar patients demonstrated greater variability of responses suggesting greater short-term mood fluctuation in bipolar patients.