Objective To study the prevalence and risk factors of depressive symptoms, comparing subjects with normal glucose metabolism (NGM), impaired glucose metabolism (IGM) or Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2). Research design and methods Cross-sectional data from a population-based cohort study conducted among 550 residents (276 men and 274 women) of the Hoorn region, the Netherlands. Levels of depressive symptoms were measured using the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D score≥ 16). Glucose metabolism status was determined by means of fasting and post-load glucose levels. Results The prevalence of depressive symptoms in men with NGM, IGM and DM2 was 7.7, 7.0 and 15.0% (P = 0.19) and for women 7.7, 23.1 and 19.7% (P < 0.01), respectively. Depression was significantly more common in women with IGM [odds ratio (OR) = 3.60, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.57 to 8.28] and women with DM2 (OR = 3.18, 95% CI = 1.31 to 7.74). In men, depression was not associated with IGM (OR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.32 to 2.57) and non-significantly more common in DM2 (OR = 2.04, 95% CI = 0.75 to 5.49). Adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, cardiovascular disease and diabetes symptoms reduced the strength of these associations. Conclusions Depressive symptoms are more common in women with IGM, but not men. Adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, cardiovascular disease and diabetes symptoms partially attenuated these associations, suggesting that these variables could be intermediate factors. © 2008 Diabetes UK.