Background: Child sexual abuse (CSA) and poor parental care (neglect and institutional care) are associated with depression in adult life. Little is known about possible mechanisms underlying these associations. Aims: To examine the role of adult intimate-love relationships as differential mediators or moderators of the associations between CSA, poor parental care and adult depression. Method: Sampling was carried out in two phases. In the first, questionnaires were sent to women aged 25-36 years in five primary care practices. Second-phase subjects for interview (n=198) were drawn from three strata defined on the basis of childhood adversities. Recalled childhood experiences and recent adult relationships and depression were assessed and rated independently. Frequencies of predictor and response variables, effect estimates and their confidence intervals were weighted back to the general population questionnaire sample. Results: The risk for depression associated with CSA was unaffected by quality of adult relationships, while the risk associated with poor parental care was substantially altered. Conclusions: There may be different pathways linking CSA and poor parental care to adult depression.