Background. Migration and ethnic minority status have been associated with higher occurrence of common mental disorders (CMD), while mental health care utilisation by non-Western migrants has been reported to be low compared to the general population in Western host countries. Still, the evidence-base for this is poor. This study evaluates uptake of mental health services for CMD and psychological distress among first-generation non-Western migrants in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Methods. A population-based survey. First generation non-Western migrants and ethnic Dutch respondents (N = 580) participated in structured interviews in their own languages. The interview included the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and the Kessler psychological distress scale (K10). Uptake of services was measured by self-report. Data were analysed using weighting techniques and multivariate logistic regression. Results. Of subjects with a CMD during six months preceding the interview, 50.9% reported care for mental problems in that period; 35.0% contacted specialised services. In relation to CMD, ethnic groups were equally likely to access specialised mental health services. In relation to psychological distress, however, Moroccan migrants reported less uptake of primary care services (OR = 0.37; 95% CI = 0.15 to 0.88). Conclusion. About half of the ethnic Dutch, Turkish and Moroccan population in Amsterdam with CMD contact mental health services. Since the primary purpose of specialised mental health services is to treat "cases", this study provides strong indications for equal access to specialised care for these ethnic groups. The purpose of primary care services is however to treat psychological distress, so that access appears to be lower among Moroccan migrants.