OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of depression and burnout among family physicians working in British Columbia's Northern and Isolation Allowance communities. Current level of satisfaction with work and intention to move were also investigated. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, mailed survey. SETTING: Family practices in rural communities eligible for British Columbia's Northern and Isolation Allowance. PARTICIPANTS: A random sample of family physicians practising in rural BC communities. Initial response rate was 66% (131/198 surveys returned); excluding physicians on leave and in temporary situations and those who received duplicate mailings gave a corrected response rate of 92% (131/142 surveys returned). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Demographics; self-reported depression and burnout; Beck Depression Inventory and Maslach Burnout Inventory scores; job satisfaction; and intention to leave. RESULTS: Self-reported depression rate was 29%; the Beck Depression Inventory indicated 31% of physicians suffered from mild to severe depression. About 13% of physicians reported taking antidepressants in the past 5 years. Self-reported burnout rate was 55%; the Maslach Burnout Inventory showed that 80% of physicians suffered from moderate-to-severe emotional exhaustion, 61% suffered from moderate-to-severe depersonalization, and 44% had moderate-to-low feelings of personal accomplishment. Depression scores correlated with emotional exhaustion scores. More than half the respondents were considering relocation. CONCLUSION: Physicians working in these communities suffer from high levels of depression and very high levels of burnout and are dissatisfied with their current jobs. More than half are considering relocating. Intention to move is strongly associated with poor mental health.