Research on psychological treatment of depression in inpatients is not conclusive, with some studies finding clear positive effects and other studies finding no significant benefit compared to usual care or structured pharmacotherapy. The results of a meta-analysis investigating how effective psychological treatment is for depressed inpatients are presented. A systematic search in bibliographical databases resulted in 12 studies with a total of 570 respondents. This set of studies had sufficient statistical power to detect small effect sizes. Psychological treatments had a small (g=0.29), but statistically significant additional effect on depression compared to usual care and structured pharmacological treatments only. This corresponded with a numbers-needed-to-be-treated of 6.17. Heterogeneity was zero in most analyses, and not significant in all analyses. There was no indication for significant publication bias. Effects were not associated with characteristics of the population, the interventions and the design of the studies. Although the number of studies was small, and the quality of many studies was not optimal, it seems safe to conclude that psychological treatments have a small but robust effect on depression in depressed inpatients. More high-quality research is needed to verify these results. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.