Summary Twelve adolescent males with a history of chronic solvent abuse were compared with 12 delinquent controls on a structured interview concerning their history of solvent abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and on a self-report inventory of depression. Solvent abusers had histories of severe social and emotional deprivation, and reported higher rates of depression. This was particularly true of the most chronic abusers of solvents. These findings do not reflect any referral bias and it is concluded that the association between chronic solvent abuse and depression is a real one. Psychological, social work and psychiatric services need to take the presentation of chronic solvent abuse more seriously.