Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and background factors of depression in first admitted schizophrenic patients. Method: The study is an analysis of 998 consecutively admitted schizophrenic patients with their first hospitalization. Patient's characteristics were prospectively assessed using standardized instruments at the time of first admission and discharge. Results: High prevalence rates of depressive symptoms were found. Depressed schizophrenic patients were more likely to have suicidal tendencies, were older, more frequently married, less frequently single and unemployed and had more family members with psychiatric disorders other than schizophrenia than the non‐depressed patients. Positive, negative and extrapyramidal symptoms do not have a substantial influence on depression in these patients. Conclusions: The study suggests that depression represents a distinct psychopathological dimension of the acute illness in first admitted schizophrenic patients. In particular, in light of the suicidal tendencies, recognition and treatment of depression is an important clinical task.