Bipolar disorder (BD) is frequently misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder (MDD) due to overlapping depressive symptoms. This study investigated whether serum platelet-derived growth factor BB (PDGF-BB) is a differential diagnostic biomarker for BD and MDD. An initial SOMAscan proteomics assay of 1311 proteins in small samples from patients with BD and MDD and healthy controls (HCs) suggested that serum levels of PDGF-BB differed between BD and MDD. We then conducted a two-step, exploratory, cross-sectional, case-control study at our institute and five sites that included a total of 549 participants (157 with BD, 144 with MDD, and 248 HCs). Clinical symptoms were assessed using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Young Mania Rating Scale. In the initial analysis at our institute, serum PDGF-BB levels in the MDD group (n = 36) were significantly lower than those in the BD (n = 39) and HC groups (n = 36). In the multicenter study, serum PDGF-BB levels in the MDD group were again significantly lower than those in the BD and HC groups, with no significant difference between the BD and HC groups. Treatment with sodium valproate was associated with significantly lower serum PDGF-BB levels in patients with BD. After controlling for confounding factors (sex, age, body mass index, clinical severity, and valproate medication), serum PDGF-BB levels were lower in the MDD group than in the BD group regardless of mood state. Our findings suggest that serum PDGF-BB may be a potential biomarker to differentiate BD and MDD.Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.