Stroke patients commonly suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression, that negatively influence stroke outcome. Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of post-stroke psychiatric disorders including depression are under debate.To study the course of depression after stroke.One hundred and ninety first-ever stroke patients were screened for depressive symptoms at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after stroke. Diagnosis of depression was made according to the DSM-IV criteria of major and minor depression.Follow-up was completed in 138 patients. The cumulative incidence of post-stroke depression (PSD) in 1 year was 36.2%. One month after stroke the prevalence of PSD was 18.8%. Thirty percent of patients who were depressed in the first three months did not reach cut-off levels on depression screening instruments at the following assessments. In 44% of these patients symptoms recurred. Recurrent cases were older than patients with limited disease. In 40% of PSD patients depression persisted for at least two consecutive following follow-up visits. Persistent cases were more disabled and suffered more often from major depression.Half of PSD patients become depressed within the first month after stroke. Although most patients recover, a clinician has to be aware that symptoms can recur especially in older patients and that in patients with major depression symptoms may be persistent. In these patients treatment should be considered, whereas in patients with limited disease an observational approach may suffice.