OBJECTIVE There are few data addressing the effect of alcohol consumption on response to antidepressants among nonalcoholics with depression. Similarly, the effect of antidepressant treatment on alcohol consumption in this group is not yet understood. This study focuses on changes in depressive symptoms and alcohol consumption in response to treatment with desipramine. METHOD Twenty-seven nonalcoholic outpatients with major depression (as determined by the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia-Lifetime Version) completed measures of depression (that is, the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory) and alcohol consumption at intake and after 5 weeks of open treatment with desipramine. Subjects were characterized as minimal or mild-to-moderate drinkers. RESULTS There was no significant difference between the groups with respect to effectiveness of antidepressant treatment. Analysis for repeated measures demonstrated that alcohol consumption with desipramine was significantly lower after treatment than at intake (F = 4.8, df 23:2, P < 0.01). Further, carbohydrate consumption was also significantly lower after treatment than at intake (F = 4.4, df 23:2, P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS Desipramine treatment appeared to result in decreases in alcohol consumption in nonalcoholic patients with depression. Further research is needed to elucidate the effect of alcohol consumption on the course and outcome of major depressive illness among nonalcoholics as well as the effect of antidepressant medication on alcohol consumption in this population.