Abstract The activity of prolyl endopeptidase (PEP), a serine proteinase, has been found to be significantly lower in the blood of patients with major depression than in normal volunteers. The present study investigates plasma PEP activity in 25 major depressed, 10 manic, and 14 schizophrenic subjects versus 30 normal volunteers. It also examines the effects of antidepressants, valproate, and neuroleptic drugs on plasma PEP activity. PEP activity was significantly lower in major depressed subjects than in normal volunteers and in patients with mania and schizophrenia. In depressed subjects, plasma PEP activity was significantly increased during treatment with antidepressant drugs, such as fluoxetine. Plasma PEP activity was significantly increased in manic and schizophrenic subjects compared with normal volunteers. In manic subjects, short-term treatment with valproate had a significant suppressive effect on PEP activity. No significant effects of neuroleptics on PEP activity could be found in the schizophrenic patients. The results support the hypothesis that lower PEP activity could play a role in the pathophysiology of major depression, while increased PEP activity may be related to psychotic conditions, such as mania and schizophrenia.