Maternal depression is a well-documented risk factor for youth depression, and taking into account its severity and chronicity may provide important insight into the degree of risk conferred. This study explored the degree to which the severity/chronicity of maternal depression history explained variance in youth internalizing and externalizing symptoms above and beyond current maternal depressive symptoms among 171 youth (58 % male) ages 8 to 12 over a span of 3 years. Severity and chronicity of past maternal depression and current maternal depressive symptoms were examined as predictors of parent-reported youth internalizing and externalizing symptomatology, as well as youth self-reported depressive symptoms. Severity and chronicity of past maternal depression did not account for additional variance in youth internalizing and externalizing symptoms at Time 1 beyond what was accounted for by maternal depressive symptoms at Time 1. Longitudinal growth curve modeling indicated that prior severity/chronicity of maternal depression predicted levels of youth internalizing and externalizing symptoms at each time point when controlling for current maternal depressive symptoms at each time point. Chronicity of maternal depression, apart from severity, also predicted rate of change in youth externalizing symptoms over time. These findings highlight the importance of screening and assessing for current maternal depressive symptoms, as well as the nature of past depressive episodes. Possible mechanisms underlying the association between severity/chronicity of maternal depression and youth outcomes, such as residual effects from depressive history on mother–child interactions, are discussed.