We studied corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) in 25 drug-free depressed patients and 33 healthy controls over a wide age-range. CBG was measured at 0800, 1400, 2000 and 2400 h in all subjects. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measurement design revealed a significant effect of gender and time, but not of diagnosis (depressed patients vs healthy controls) or age group (< 50/> 50 years). In females, regardless of diagnosis, CBG plasma concentrations were significantly increased, when compared with their male counterparts. Although as a group depressed patients had significantly higher plasma cortisol concentrations (108.0 ± 23.1 vs 70.7 ± 10.9 μg/l), CBG levels did not differ between the two groups. Thus we did not find hypercortisolemia in depression to be paralleled by a decrease in CBG. However, the exaggerated activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical system in healthy and depressed females is associated with an increase in plasma CBG.