Background: The vascular depression hypothesis suggests that age-related vascular diseases and risk factors contribute to late-life depression. Although neuroimaging studies provide evidence for an association between depression and severity of vascular lesions in the brain, studies of depression and indicators of vascular risk have been less consistent. Methods: We examined 1796 elders ages 70-79 from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study without depression at baseline and examined the association between prevalent vascular disease and related conditions at baseline and 2-year incidence of elevated depressive symptoms, defined as a score > 8 on the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale. Results: After adjustment for demographic data and physical and cognitive functioning, several vascular conditions remained associated with increased risk of depressive symptomatology including metabolic syndrome and its components (low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high fasting glucose), coronary heart disease, a positive Rose questionnaire for angina, and high hemoglobin a1c. Cumulative vascular risk based upon a composite of 10 vascular diseases and risk factors was independently associated with incident elevated depression at 2-year follow-up after controlling for demographic data, physical and cognitive functioning, and selected comorbid medical conditions. Conclusions: These results provide support for the vascular depression hypothesis in demonstrating an association between vascular conditions and risk factors and subsequent risk of depressive symptomatology. Older adults with vascular conditions and risk factors require close monitoring of depressive symptoms. © 2008 Society of Biological Psychiatry.