Depressive disorders prevalence was estimated in two populations of the elderly (over the age of 70): a) residents of nursing homes, and b) pair-matched controls living in their own homes. Persons with major physical or neurological disorders were excluded. Subjects in the study were persons never treated for depression in the past. The prevalence rate of depressive disorders was found to be high (up to 1/3 of the population). These disorders were over three times more frequent among residents of nursing homes. The frequency of occurrence of depression among the aged persons actively participating in the community life and keeping up more regular family contacts was lower.