In this paper we studied the appropriateness of developing an adaptive version of the Center of Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D, Radloff, 1977) scale. Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) involves the computerized administration of a test in which each item is dynamically selected from a pool of items until a pre-specified measurement precision is reached. Two types of analyses were performed using the CES-D responses of a large sample of adolescents (N = 1392). First, it was shown that the items met the psychometric requirements needed for CAT. Second, CATs were simulated by using the existing item responses as if they had been collected adaptively. CATs selecting only a small number of items gave results which, in terms of depression measurement and criterion validity, were only marginally different from the results of full CES-D assessment. It was concluded that CAT is a very fruitful way of improving the efficiency of the CES-D questionnaire. The discussion addresses the strengths and limitations of the application of CAT in mental health research. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.