Abstract Serotonin transporter (5HTT) is thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of major depression and the target of antidepressants. We hypothesized that 5HTT mRNA levels in peripheral leukocytes may be associated with depressive states and the therapeutic response to antidepressant treatments. Fifteen patients with major depression and age-, sex-matched control subjects were studied. 5HTT mRNA levels were determined with quantitative real-time PCR method. 5HTT mRNA levels in leukocytes were significantly higher in depressive patients at baseline (before medication) than in control subjects. 5HTT mRNA levels were decreased significantly after 8 weeks of paroxetine medication compared with those at baseline. Our investigation suggested that the increased expression of 5HTT mRNA in peripheral leukocytes may be related with the pathophysiology of depression and its reduction after treatment may reflect the adaptive change induced by the antidepressant.