The prevalence of depression was investigated in 2 groups of elderly people in Turkey living in a public old people's home and in their own home. Depression was assessed according to the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, not clinical diagnosis. The prevalence of depression was 35% (33% for men, 37% for women) for the total population, 41% (40% for men, 42% for women) for those living in an institution and 29% (24% for men, 33% for women) for those living at home. Not being able to work actively, poor religious interest, widowhood, alcohol consumption, older age and physical disability were significantly correlated with the prevalence of depression. Institutional care was also associated with depression. The prevalence of depression was not related to sex, education, occupation or economic status.