Objective Although there has been growing evidence for the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for different clinical populations, its effectiveness as a public mental health intervention has not been studied. The present study evaluates a community-based MBCT intervention for adults with mild to moderate depressive symptomatology in a large multi-site, pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Method The participants with mild to moderate depressive symptomatology were recruited from the general population and randomized to the MBCT intervention (n = 76) or to a waiting list control group (n = 75). Participants completed measures before and after the intervention. Participants in the experimental condition also completed these measures at a 3-month follow-up. Results In the experimental condition significant reductions in depression, anxiety, and experiential avoidance, and improvements in mindfulness and emotional- and psychological mental health were found, compared to the waiting list (effect sizes Cohen's d = 0.31–0.56). These effects were sustained at the 3-month follow-up. The likelihood of a clinically significant change in depressive symptoms was significantly higher for the MBCT group [odds ratio (OR) 3.026, p<0.01 at post-treatment; NNT = 5.10]. Discussion MBCT as a public mental health intervention for adults with mild to moderate depressive symptoms seems effective and applicable in a natural setting.