Depression is believed to be a common side effect in patients receiving beta-blocker therapy. However, diagnoses of depression defined by current diagnostic criteria may not be more common in patients receiving beta-blockers than in patients with the same medical disorder receiving other medications. Seventy-seven patients undergoing elective cardiac catheterization for evaluation of chest pain received a semi-structured diagnostic psychiatric interview. Twenty-one percent of the patients receiving beta-blockers and 33 percent of the patients receiving medications other than beta-blockers met the current American Psychiatric Association criteria for major depressive disorder (DSM-III) (p = NS). The mean heart rate and state anxiety scores for patients taking beta-blockers were significantly lower than those measured in patients taking medications other than beta-blockers. No other medical or demographic differences were observed between the two groups. Despite the methodologic limitations of the study, there does not appear to be a difference in the point prevalence of depression between patients receiving beta-blockers and those receiving other medications.