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The aim of this review is to highlight the relationship between affective temperaments and clinical mood disorders and to summarize the earlier and most recent studies on affective temperaments in both clinical and nonclinical populations.Current research findings show that specific affective temperament types (depressive, cyclothymic, hyperthymic, irritable and anxious) are the subsyndromal (trait-related) manifestations and commonly the antecedents of minor and major mood disorders. Up to 20% of the population has some kind of marked affective temperaments; depressive, cyclothymic and anxious temperament is more frequent in women, whereas hyperthymic and irritable temperaments predominate among men. Molecular genetic studies show a strong involvement of the central serotonergic (depressive, cyclothymic, irritable and anxious temperaments) and dopaminergic (hyperthymic temperament) regulation, suggesting that the genetic potential of major mood episodes lies in these temperaments.Premorbid affective temperament types have an important role in the clinical evolution of minor and major mood episodes including the direction of the polarity and the symptom formation of acute mood episodes. They can also significantly affect the long-term course and outcome including suicidality and other forms of self-destructive behaviours such as substance use and eating disorders.