objective: to describe the presence of depressive symptoms (ds) and factors associated with them among poor mexican older male and female adults (oa). methods: a survey was conducted among oa enrolled in a governmental poverty relief program (oportunidades) in mexico. participants completed a short version of the center for epidemiologic studies depression scale and answered questions about health and life conditions. results: the prevalence of ds over the cutoff point was 43% (confidence interval (ci) 39.5-46.4). ds were associated with different variables among male and female participants. for men, difficulties in performing daily life activities were associated with ds over the cutoff point (odds ratio (or) 2.62, ci 1.58-4.34) and literacy was associated with less ds (or 0.46, ci 0.31-0.68). for women, difficulties with daily life activities were associated with more ds (or 2.50, ci 1.57-3.97), and being head of the family was also positively associated (or 1.81, ci 1.11-2.93). conclusions: ds were frequent among this sample of poor oa. the differences between men and women in variables associated with ds highlight the importance of considering the gendered aspects of growing old.