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To characterize patterns of depressed mood during the menopausal transition (MT) in relation to age and MT-related factors and to assess the contribution of factors related to depressed mood at earlier points in the life span.Women (N = 508) were recruited from 1990 to 1992 from multiethnic neighborhoods and followed annually through 2005: 302 met the eligibility criteria for analyses reported here. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D) and a menstrual calendar were completed annually throughout the study. A subset of women provided a first morning voided urine specimen from 1997 through 2005. Urine samples were assayed for estrone glucuronide, follicle-stimulating hormone, testosterone, and cortisol. Mixed effects modeling was used to identify changes in CES-D scores over time, including the relationship to age, MT-related factors, and factors related to depression at other points in the life span (postpartum depression/blues, life stress, or family history of clinical depression).Age was modestly and negatively related to CES-D scores, but MT stage alone was not, except that the late MT stage was significantly related to depressed mood. Hot flash activity, life stress, family history of depression, history of "postpartum blues," sexual abuse history, body mass index, and use of antidepressants were also individually related to depressed mood; the hormonal assays and age of entry into and duration of late MT stage were unrelated.Although women in the late MT stage are vulnerable to depressed mood, factors that account for depressed mood earlier in the life span continue to have an important influence and should be considered in studies of etiology and therapeutics.