Depression has been related to relapsed drinking in alcoholics striving to maintain sobriety. Treatment with tricyclic antidepressants might reverse or prevent depressive symptoms related to relapse, and may reverse biochemical abnormalities hypothesized to underlie both depression and alcoholism, thus helping to prolong abstinence in recovering alcoholics. This is a preliminary report of the findings of an ongoing 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of desipramine (DMI) in recently abstinent alcoholics, with stratification on the presence or absence of secondary depression and DMI plasma level monitoring. Hypotheses are that DMI will prolong sobriety and reduce depression secondary to alcoholism significantly more than placebo. Subjects were 34 males and 8 females with 19 subjects stratified as depressed after an average of 16.31 days of sobriety. Depressed DMI subjects were significantly less depressed at the time of their termination from study than depressed placebo subjects. No group differences were found in rate of nonsobriety. However, there was a trend for DMI subjects to maintain sobriety for a longer duration on the study since onset of alcoholism, with 33.3 percent depressed placebo, 9.1 percent nondepressed placebo, 60.0 percent depressed DMI, and 41.7 percent nondepressed DMI subjects having their longest period of sobriety on the study.