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To date, there has been no large-scale survey of geriatric depression (GD) involving both rural and urban areas in China using standardized assessment tools and diagnostic criteria. This study aimed to determine the 12-month and lifetime prevalence rates of GD and sociodemographic correlates in urban and rural regions of Beijing, China.A total of 1601 elderly patients (aged ≥60 years) were randomly selected and interviewed in Beijing using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI 1.0). Basic sociodemographic and clinical data were also collected during the interviews.The overall 12-month prevalence of GD was 4.33 %, and the 12-month prevalence rates for men and women were 2.65 % and 5.83 % respectively. The overall lifetime prevalence of GD was 7.83 %, and lifetime prevalence rates for men and women were 4.65% and 10.66% respectively. Female sex, lower educational level, monthly income, rural abode, and the presence of one or more major medical conditions were associated with increased risk of GD. Of the GD subjects interviewed, 25.2% were receiving some type of treatment, with only 4.7% preferring to seek treatment from mental health professionals.Although still relatively low by international standards, there is an increasing trend in the prevalence of GD in China. The low percentage of subjects treated for GD is a major public health concern that should be addressed urgently.