Background: Old people (75+) are underrepresented in studies on the prevalence of and risk factors for depression while the number of elderly people suffering from this mood disorder may be considerably higher than previously assumed. The role - if any - of age and gender in 'Geriatric Depression' is still unclear. Methods: In this community-based study, prevalence of depressive symptomatology and risk indicators were assessed in 2850 participants aged 75 years or more. A clinically relevant level of depressive symptoms was defined as a score of ≥ 16 on the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D). Demographic data and questions related to physical and psychological health were recorded. Simple and multiple logistic regression techniques were used to determine the risk indicators (Odds Ratios, OR, with 95% confidence intervals, CI) with apparent importance to this population. Results: The prevalence of depressive symptoms was assessed to be 31.1%. This is considerably higher than what has been found in younger elderly samples. The bivariate age effect was OR 1.05 (95% CI = 1.03 to 1.07). Controlling for confounding, the effect of gender and age on depressive symptoms disappeared. Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are highly prevalent in the elderly population and increase with age. This increase seems to be attributable to age-related changes in risk factors rather than to ageing itself. With regard to the risk factors found, attention should perhaps be paid to functional disability, loneliness and apprehensiveness for falling since these risk indicators are amenable for improvement. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.