BACKGROUND: Exposure to ambient air pollution may be associated with impaired mental health, including depression. However, evidence originates mainly from animal studies and epidemiological studies in specific subgroups. We investigated the association between air pollution and depressed mood in four European general population cohorts. METHODS: Data were obtained from LifeLines (the Netherlands), KORA (Germany), HUNT (Norway), and FINRISK (Finland). Residential exposure to particles (PM2.5, PM2.5absorbance, PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was estimated using land use regression (LUR) models developed for the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE) and using European wide LUR models. Depressed mood was assessed with interviews and questionnaires. Logistic regression analyses were used to investigate the cohort specific associations between air pollution and depressed mood. RESULTS: A total of 70,928 participants were included in our analyses. Depressed mood ranged from 1.6% (KORA) to 11.3% (FINRISK). Cohort specific associations of the air pollutants and depressed mood showed heterogeneous results. For example, positive associations were found for NO2 in LifeLines (odds ratio [OR]=1.34; 95% CI: 1.17, 1.53 per 10μg/m(3) increase in NO2), whereas negative associations were found in HUNT (OR=0.79; 95% CI: 0.66, 0.94 per 10μg/m(3) increase in NO2). CONCLUSIONS: Our analyses of four European general population cohorts found no consistent evidence for an association between ambient air pollution and depressed mood.