Retinoic acid (RA), produced by the metabolism of vitamin A, makes effects on depression and stroke. This study was aimed to evaluate the relationship between RA levels in serum and post-stroke depression (PSD). A single-center (Chengdu, China) prospective cohort study was conducted on patients with acute ischemic stroke. The RA serum level was measured at admission. The PSD was assessed in the 3-month follow-up. The RA-PSD relationship was evaluated with conditional logistic regression. In total, 239 ischemic stroke cases and 100 healthy controls were included. The median RA serum level in patients with ischemic stroke was 2.45 ng/ml (interquartile range [IQR], 0.72-4.33), lower(P<0.001) than 3.89 ng/ml of those in control cases ([IQR]: 2.62-5.39). The crude and adjusted odds ratios [OR] (and 95% confidence intervals [CI]) of PSD associated with an IQR increase for RA were 0.54 (0.44, 0.67) and 0.66 (0.52, 0.79), respectively. Higher ORs of PSD associated with reduced RA levels (<cut-off=2.8ng/ml) were observed (OR=3.01 [95% CI, 2.34-4.98]; P<0.001). This study revealed that, in patients with ischemic stroke, reduced RA serum level was related to higher risk of PSD at 3 months, which may be applied as a predictive indicator.