Résumé : A wide range of studies have been published over the past two decades that involve the intersection of sleep EEG, insomnia, psychiatric illness (especially depressive disorders) and psychopharmacology. Much of value has been discovered, but there have also been false starts and contradictory results. There is in fact strong evidence that insomnia is associated with medical and psychiatric illness and that the sleepiness associated with insomnia is the cause of many accidents. Thus, the direct (visits to doctors, cost of sleeping medication, complications from use of these medications) and indirect (accidents, quality of life) costs of insomnia are enormous and constitute a major public health problem in the industrialized countries. Believing that it is now timely to assess the state of this important research area, a consensus conference was convened on June 26-28, 1998, in Porto Cervo (Italy) to attempt to clarify the important issues and findings on the clinical effect of the different classes of antidepressant drugs on sleep quality in depression. The participants' consensus on some of the main topics is presented with the hope that this discussion and analysis will contribute to productive research in this important field.