Abstract Geriatric depression is associated with cognitive deficits that share similar features with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and normal aging. This study examined cognitive profiles and serial position effects in patients with geriatric depression ( N=20) or AD ( N=32) and in elderly controls ( N=18). Groups were compared on two measures of serial position of the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), scaled scores and regional scores. Newly devised regional scores measure the percentage of items recalled as a function of the possible number of items presented from three regions of the list. Regional scores significantly differentiated depressed from control groups, with reduction of recalled items from the middle region. Scaled scores distinguished the depression from the AD groups on primacy and recency regions, with the characteristic recency effect seen in the AD group. Deficits in regional scores of the middle region are discussed in the context of lower resources in depression.