Brief and culturally compatible measures of depression are necessary, yet most depression scales are translated without regard for cultural biases. In this study, 292 medical outpatients completed an English or a Spanish-translated and back-translated version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). The BDI items were analyzed for bias between Spanish and English-speaking patients to determine the equivalence of the scale. A Differential Item Function (DIF) using a Mantel Haenszel Approach for Ordered Response Categories was used to analyze how likely subjects in the two ethnic groups were to endorse each response category. The results suggest that regardless of level of depression, Latinos are more likely to endorse items reflecting tearfulness and punishment, and less likely to endorse inability to work. Cultural interpretations and recommendations for use of the BDI are discussed. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Clin Psychol 57: 355–365, 2001.