This study examined whether clique isolation predicted an increase in depressive symptoms and whether this association was mediated by loneliness and perceived social acceptance in 310 children followed from age 11-14 years. Clique isolation was identified through social network analysis, whereas depressive symptoms, loneliness, and perceived social acceptance were assessed using self ratings. While accounting for initial levels of depressive symptoms, peer rejection, and friendlessness at age 11 years, a high probability of being isolated from cliques from age 11 to 13 years predicted depressive symptoms at age 14 years. The link between clique isolation and depressive symptoms was mediated by loneliness, but not by perceived social acceptance. No sex differences were found in the associations between clique isolation and depressive symptoms. These results suggest that clique isolation is a social risk factor for the escalation of depressive symptoms in early adolescence. Implications for research and prevention are discussed. © 2010 The Author(s).