The authors studied CSF corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and plasma cortisol in 22 depressed patients and 18 normal control subjects. CRH levels were similar in the two groups. Depressed patients who were nonsuppressors on the dexamethasone suppression test had significantly higher levels of CRH than suppressors did. The depressed patients' CRH levels were significantly correlated with 4:00 p.m. postdexamethasone plasma cortisol levels. While the inclusion of a depressed patient with an outlier CRH value resulted in the loss of statistical significance for both of these findings, the authors suggest that these results support the hypothesis that hypercortisolism in depressed patients in part reflects a defect at or above the hypothalamus, resulting in hypersecretion of CRH.