Background: The objective of this study was to compare personality traits between major depressive disorder (MDD) patients and healthy comparison subjects (HC) and examine if personality traits in patients are associated with specific clinical characteristics of the disorder. Methods: Sixty MDD patients (45 depressed, 15 remitted) were compared to 60 HC using the Temperament and Character Inventory. Analysis of covariance, with age and gender as covariates, was used to compare the mean Temperament and Character Inventory scores among the subject groups. Results: Depressed MDD patients scored significantly higher than HC on novelty seeking, harm avoidance, and self-transcendence and lower on reward dependence, self-directedness, and cooperativeness. Remitted MDD patients scored significantly lower than HC only on self-directedness. Comorbidity with anxiety disorder had a main effect only on harm avoidance. Harm avoidance was positively correlated with depression intensity and with number of episodes. Self-directedness had an inverse correlation with depression intensity. Conclusions: MDD patients present a different personality profile from HC, and these differences are influenced by mood state and comorbid anxiety disorders. When considering patients who have been in remission for some time, the differences pertain to few personality dimensions. Cumulated number of depressive episodes may result in increased harm avoidance. Depression and Anxiety, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.