In recent years several lines of evidence have emerged suggesting that eating disorders in general, and bulimia in particular, are in some way linked to affective illness. However, there are few data on the frequency of affective syndromes among patients who have anorexia nervosa or bulimia. This report describes the results of semistructured interviews using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (SADS) to evaluate the frequency of the current and lifetime diagnoses of affective illness among 50 female patients meeting DSM-III criteria for bulimia. Seventy percent of the patients had, at some time during their lives, met Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) for an episode of major depression and 88% had met RDC at some time during their lives for some affective disturbance. The implications of this high frequency of affective disturbance among patients with bulimia are discussed.