The mediating factors between childhood experience of parental divorce and subsequent depression in young adulthood were assessed in a follow-up study of one Finnish urban age cohort from the age of 16 to 22 (n = 1656). Depression was found to be more common among the offspring of divorced families. Low self-esteem at age 16 was an indicator of vulnerability to depression in young adulthood irrespective of family background or gender. Among girls the long-term impact of divorce was mediated via low self-esteem and lack of closeness to father. When the relationship with the father was close, no excess risk of depression was found among girls from divorced families. Conversely, in boys no statistical connection between low self-esteem or unsatisfactory relationship with parents and depression after parental divorce was found.