Objective: The study assessed the utility of a modified Zung SelfRated Depression Scale (SDS) in detecting major depression among Eskimo patients in the Bering Straits region of Alaska. Methods: The modified SDS was administered to Eskimo patients referred for psychiatric evaluation at the community mental health center in Nome. Diagnoses were assigned by a staff psychiatrist based on DSM-III-R criteria. The SDS scores of 25 consecutive patients with a diagnosis of major depression were compared with the scores of 25 consecutive patients assigned other psychiatric diagnoses. Results: The modified SDS was readily understood by patients and took between three and four minutes to complete. The mean SDS score of patients with a diagnosis of major depression was significantly different from that of patients with other diagnoses. The SDS had a sensitivity of 80 percent and specificity of 88 percent for detecting patients with major depression. Conclusions: The SDS is easy to administer and can differentiate between patients with major depression and those with other psychiatric diagnoses. it can be modified to fit local idiom in an Eskimo community. The SDS shows promise as a clinically relevant screening tool for major depression in populations with limited access to psychiatric care.