The specific symptoms of depression associated with increased mortality in the depressed elderly are poorly known. The aim of this paper is to analyse the individual depressive symptoms measured by the Zung Self Rated Depression Scale (ZSDS) and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) in association with mortality among depressed elderly subjects. The population consisted of 169 depressed (DSM-III criteria) aged (65+ years) persons from a Finnish epidemiological research project. The follow-up for deaths continued for about 6 years. When age, sex, smoking, physical health and functional abilities were taken into account, dissatisfaction, weight loss and gastrointestinal symptoms (anorexia and constipation) predicted mortality together with high age and poor physical health. Weight loss was related to an increased risk of death, specifically in the depressed. Dissatisfaction and gastrointestinal symptoms were more general markers of increased mortality.