Depressive patients with psychotic features demonstrate distinct biological abnormalities in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), dopaminergic activity, electroencephalogram sleep profiles and measures of scrotonergic function when compared to nonpsychotic depressive patients. However, very few functional neuroimaging studies were specifically designed for studying the effects of psychotic features on neuroimaging findings in, depressed patients. The objective of the present study was to compare brain Single Photon Emission Tomography (SPECT) images in a group of unmedicated depressive patients with and without psychotic features. Twenty-eight patients who fully met DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD, 12 had psychotic features) were included in the study. They were compared with 16 control subjects matched for age, gender and education. Both psychotic and nonpsychotic depressed patients showed significantly lower regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) values in the left and right superior frontal cortex, and left anterior cingulate cortex compared to those of controls. In comparison with depressive patients without psychotic features (DwoPF), depressive patients with psychotic features (DwPF) showed significantly lower rCBF perfusion ratios in left parietal cortex, left cerebellum but had higher rCBF perfusion ratio in the left inferior frontal cortex and caudate nucleus. The present study showed that DwPF have a different rCBF pattern compared to patients without psychotic features. Abnormalities involving inferior frontal cortex, striatum and cerebellum may play an important role in the generation of psychotic symptoms in depression. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.