Given the lack of research in clinically depressed elders, and drawing on an integrative perspective, this study examined predictions of three prominent psychological models of depression (cognitive, learned helplessness, and psychodynamic theory) in a sample of elderly depressed patients. The hypothesized specificity to depression and stability of representative psychological characteristics were evaluated by comparing levels of 25 clinically depressed elders, 20 nondepressed psychiatric controls and 28 nondepressed medical controls, at hospitalization (Tl), discharge (T2) and five months later (T3). Also, the relative contribution of theory-based variables to depression severity at discharge and at follow-up was explored. While elderly depressed patients showed, overall, significantly higher levels of maladaptive cognitions, biased attributions, and selected depressogenic personality traits than medical controls, these variables did not discriminate among depressives and psychiatric controls, with the exception of negative automatic thinking, and pessimistic attributions in females. Positive attributional style and hedonism did not discriminate among subject groups. Support was found for the stability, in the depressed group, of purportedly traitlike characteristics through hospitalization to follow-up. Multiple regression analyses indicated that initial symptomatology level was the strongest predictor of both discharge and follow-up depression severity, whereas selected variables from each theoretical model contributed marginally, depending on the time of assessment.