A developing body of research points to the role of family relationships and interactions as factors relevant to understanding unipolar depressive symptomatology and disorder in adolescents. This paper is focused on examining mechanisms by which adverse family processes may operate to increase adolescents' vulnerability to depression. The review is organized into a description and evaluation of four potential mechanisms by which families may influence adolescents' risk: (a) Stress/Support, (b) Social Interactional, (c) Cognitive, and (d) Affect Regulation. The presentation of the individual mechanisms is followed by a brief discussion of how they could be integrated to develop a fuller understanding of familial processes relevant to the etiology and maintenance of depressive conditions. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of overall limitations in the literature and recommendations for future research.