Background: There is hardly evidence on maintenance treatment with antidepressants in primary care. Nevertheless, depression guidelines recommend maintenance treatment i.e. treatment to prevent recurrences, in patients with high risk of recurrence, and many patients use maintenance treatment with antidepressants. This study explores the characteristics of patients on maintenance treatment with antidepressants in general practice, and compares these characteristics with guideline recommendations for maintenance treatment. Methods: We used data (baseline, two-year and four-year follow-up) of primary care respondents with remitted depressive disorder ( ≥6 months) from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (n = 776). Maintenance treatment was defined as the use of an antidepressant for ≥12 months. Multilevel logistic regression was used to describe the association between sociodemographic, clinical and care characteristics and use of maintenance treatment with antidepressants. Results: Older patients, patients with a lower education, those using benzodiazepines or receiving psychological/psychiatric care and patients with a concurrent history of a dysthymic or anxiety disorder more often received maintenance treatment with antidepressants. Limitations: Measurements were not made at the start of an episode, but at predetermined points in time. Diagnoses were based on interview (CIDI) data and could therefore in some cases have been different from the GP diagnosis. Conclusions: Since patients with chronic or recurrent depression do not use maintenance treatment with antidepressants more often, characteristics of patients on maintenance treatment do not fully correspond with guideline recommendations. However, patients on maintenance treatment appear to be those with more severe disorder and/or more comorbidity. © 2014 Piek et al.