PURPOSE: In clinical molecular imaging the interaction between antidepressant medication and SPECT ligands is a significant potential confound. This study measured nAChR availability, as determined by SPECT imaging, on and off selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in first episode depressed patients. METHODS: Five patients in their first episode of major depressive disorder (MDD) on a single SSRI underwent [(123)I]5-I-A85380- SPECT neuroimaging prior to stopping their medication and again 6 weeks following medication cessation. Autoradiography of post mortem brain tissue with [(125)I]5-I-A85380 in the presence or absence of four commonly prescribed antidepressants was also assessed. RESULTS: SSRI antidepressants did not affect the relative binding availability of alpha4beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors for the [(123)I]5-I-A85380 ligand in vivo. Radioligand binding in vitro was unaffected by a single, high pharmacological concentration of antidepressants. CONCLUSION: SPECT imaging studies using [(123)I]5-I-A85380 to measure alpha4beta2 nAChR availability in depressed patients are unlikely to be confounded to a major degree by concurrent antidepressant medication.