OBJECTIVE: The authors investigated the links between depression, cardiac disease, and microcirculatory cerebral blood flow (CBF). METHOD: A magnetic resonance imaging technique based on arterial spin tagging was used to estimate microcirculatory CBF in depressed (N=5) and comparison (N=14) elderly subjects with coronary artery disease. Signal intensity ratios corresponding to relative microcirculatory CBF were calculated for four regions on two axial images through the upper and lower halves of the lateral ventricles. RESULTS: On the superior image, estimates of microcirculatory CBF were statistically significantly lower on the left side in the depressed subjects than in the nondepressed group. When the ratios in the superior and inferior images were averaged, the depressed subjects had lower values for both left periventricular regions of interest and the parietal region. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the small study group and indirect estimates of blood flow, these preliminary findings suggest that a relative cerebral hypoperfusion may underlie depression in elderly cardiac patients.