Objective: In order to evaluate the presence of treatment emergent suicidal ideation (SI), it becomes necessary to identify those patients with SI at the onset of treatment. The purpose of this report is to identify sociodemographic and clinical features that are associated with SI in major depressive disorder (MDD) patients prior to treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Method: This multisite study enrolled 265 out-patients with non-psychotic MDD. Sociodemographic and clinical features of participants with and without SI were compared post hoc. Results: Social phobia, bulimia nervosa, number of past depressive episodes, and race were independently associated with SI by one or more SI measure. Conclusion: Concurrent social phobia and bulimia nervosa may be potential risk factors for SI in patients with non-psychotic MDD. Additionally, patients with more than one past depressive episode may also be at increased risk of SI. © 2009 John Wiley & Sons A/S.