How depression in elderly persons is related to their previous drinking over the life span has received little attention. We examined this issue with survey data from a sample representative of persons aged 60 years and older in Erie County, New York (N = 2,325). In one type of analysis, respondents were classified into those who abstained from alcohol throughout life; drank, but never experienced any alcohol-related problems or symptoms; experienced problems only before age 60; experienced them only after age 60; or experienced them both before and after age 60. Drinkers who never experienced alcohol problems had the lowest depressive symptomatology; individuals who experienced alcohol problems both before and after age 60 had the highest. Multiple-regression analyses further confirmed the possible role of earlier (around ages 20 and 40) alcohol problems in predicting elderly depression. Directions for future research and clinical screening of elders' potential alcohol misuse are discussed.