Alcoholism and depression are common disorders that frequently cooccur in the same individual. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective in the treatment of depression and also had decreased drinking in some studies of heavy drinkers and alcoholics. The reported effect of serotonergic medications on alcohol intake in depressed alcoholics has not been consistent. Most previous studies have not investigated the use of an SSRI in the context of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a known efficacious treatment of both alcoholism and depression. The study presented here was a randomized placebo-controlled 12-week trial of sertraline combined with individual CBT focused on both alcoholism relapse prevention and depressive symptoms. Subjects were 82 currently depressed, actively drinking alcohol-dependent individuals. Subjects had either primary (independent) major depression (70 subjects) or substance-induced mood disorder and at least 1 first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) with an affective disorder (12 subjects). Depression and alcohol consumption outcomes were measured weekly over 12 weeks. Sertraline was well tolerated and all subjects had decreases in both depression and alcohol use during the study compared with baseline. Subjects who received sertraline had fewer drinks per drinking day than subjects who received placebo, but other drinking outcomes were not different between the 2 treatment groups. Treatment with sertraline was associated with less depression at the end of treatment in female subjects compared with female subjects who received placebo. Less drinking during the study was associated with improved depression outcome. The findings in this study suggest that sertraline, compared with placebo, may provide some modest benefit in terms of drinking outcome and also may lead to improved depression in female alcohol-dependent subjects. Additionally, alcohol relapse prevention CBT, delivered according to manual guidelines with modifications that provide specific attention to depression, appeared to be of benefit to subjects, although this interpretation is limited by the design of the study.