BACKGROUND: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a promising approach to help people who suffer recurrent depression prevent depressive relapse. However, little is known about how MBCT works. Moreover, participants' subjective experiences of MBCT as a relapse prevention treatment remain largely unstudied. AIM: This study examines participants' representations of their experience of MBCT and its value as a relapse-prevention program for recurrent depression. METHOD: Twenty people who had participated in MBCT classes for recurrent depression within a primary care setting were interviewed 12 months after treatment. The focus of the interview was on participants' reflections on what they found helpful, meaningful and difficult about MBCT as a relapse prevention program. Thematic analysis was used to identify the key patterns and elements in participants' accounts. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Four overarching themes were extracted: control, acceptance, relationships and struggle. The theoretical, clinical and research implications are discussed.