Impaired initiation and slowed execution of movements are two of the principal characteristics of Parkinson's disease (PD). A similar pattern of movement impairments (psychomotor retardation) can be seen frequently in patients with idiopathic depression. In addition, affective disorders have been frequently reported in patients with different basal ganglia disorders. The aim of this study was to determine whether there are some particularities in the cerebral electrical activity during the preparation and execution of voluntary internally paced movements (i.e., Bereitschaftspotential, BP) in depressed PD patients, which can distinguish them from non-depressed PD patients, as well as from healthy controls. The BPs were recorded in 16 patients with idiopathic PD, eight of whom were depressed (PD-D), and eight of whom were not (PD-ND). Additional recordings were taken from a group of eight age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Depression was classified using the Research Diagnostic Criteria and the two PD groups were matched for age, disease severity, and disease duration. The amplitudes and slopes of the BPs from PD patients were generally smaller than in controls, but there was no specific pattern of BP changes that distinguished depressed from non-depressed PD patients. In addition, there was no particular association between measures of depression severity and BP parameters. The data suggest that presence of depression in PD might not have any additional deteriorating influence on already impaired preparation for self-paced spontaneous movements. © 2001 Movement Disorder Society.