Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a heterogeneous illness for which there are currently no effective methods to objectively assess severity, endophenotypes, or response to treatment. Increasing evidence suggests that circulating levels of peripheral/serum growth factors and cytokines are altered in patients with MDD, and that antidepressant treatments reverse or normalize these effects. Furthermore, there is a large body of literature demonstrating that MDD is associated with changes in endocrine and metabolic factors. Here we provide a brief overview of the evidence that peripheral growth factors, pro-inflammatory cytokines, endocrine factors, and metabolic markers contribute to the pathophysiology of MDD and antidepressant response. Recent preclinical studies demonstrating that peripheral growth factors and cytokines influence brain function and behavior are also discussed along with their implications for diagnosing and treating patients with MDD. Together, these studies highlight the need to develop a biomarker panel for depression that aims to profile diverse peripheral factors that together provide a biological signature of MDD subtypes as well as treatment response. © 2011 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.