UNLABELLED The objectives were to study clinical symptoms of major depression in later life by using relevant assessment scales of psychopathology, behavioural disorders, and physical functioning. The evaluations on admission and at discharge were based on interdisciplinary observations and interview of patients. The study was carried out during twelve months in a psychogeriatric university department and encompassed 202 patients. All (N = 80) (40%) patients who had a principal diagnosis of major depression are accounted for. Mean age was 79.5 years. Results of the assessments all showed significant improvements (p = 0.0000-0.0024). The overall results of the assessments show that the key symptom of sadness is often missing, muted, or overshadowed by other symptoms, and that behavioural disturbancies and functional disability may be important symptoms in geriatric depression. IN CONCLUSION adequate treatment of major depression in the elderly significantly improves psychopathology, behavioural disorders and physical functioning. When dealing with mental disorders in this age group, awareness of the five clinical presentations in major geriatric depression, i.e. dementoform, somatoform neurotiform, eretic and classic geriatric depression, may target the diagnostic procedure.