ABSTRACT: For centuries, there has been speculation regarding the etiology of postpartum depression. An improved diagnostic classification has emerged, however, as the universality of the syndrome has been recognized and the role of hormonal, genetic, and obstetric variables considered. In addition, different cultures have different perceptions of the needs of the new mother. The emphasis in investigative work now appears to be in the psychosocial and psychodynamic areas. Our recent research focused on identification of risk factors early in pregnancy, including a history of depression, separation from one or both parents in childhood or adolescence, poor parental emotional support in childhood and adulthood, poor relationship with husband or partner, economic problems, and dissatisfaction with amount of education. We suggest that physicians, nurses, and mental health professionals be aware of the emotional status of their patients, familiarize themselves with the risk factors, and initiate a program of careful postpartum follow-up. These measures will help to improve recognition and management of the woman at risk for postpartum depression.